KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Care Ad Blitz Expected To Ramp Up

The health care advertising blitz continues.

Many of the statements made in health care TV ads are "misleading – if not flat-out wrong," The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Those statements include claims that reform would "'ration' care to the nation's oldest citizens and hike premiums '95 percent.'" Already, more that $67 million has been spent on TV advertising, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group, "and more misinformation and nastiness is expected when Congress returns next week." The Chronicle adds that "In recent months, the tone of the advertising has changed from soft-focus and issue-oriented to more direct and political. And misleading." (Garofoli, 8/31).

The Washington Post reports that "two liberal groups are going after Republican Sen. Charles Grassley in his home state of Iowa for refusing to endorse a public insurance option as part of health-care reform." The TV ads show "an Iowan who says he voted for Grassley and other Republicans but is unhappy with their opposition to providing a public health insurance program as part of the health-care reform legislation." The ad, which was created by Howard Dean's Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is "slated to air 200 times on Iowa stations and 100 times in the Washington area, but the two groups are also launching an Internet fundraising campaign specifically aimed at collecting donations to extend the spot's run. The groups used a similar tactic earlier this summer against Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a centrist Democrat who has come under fire from the left for resisting a public insurance option" (Eggen, 8/31).

Meanwhile, to keep up the pressure, the GOP is targeting seniors with a new television ad, Politico reports: "The ad, set to run in Florida and on the national cable networks, attacks the Democratic plan for cutting Medicare spending and asserts the plan would ration health care and allow the government to make decisions in end of life care. 'When you disagree with Washington, how come they act like it's your problem?' RNC Chairman Michael Steele asks at the beginning of the ad. 'That's what the Democrats have done with health care. They say you're the problem.' The ad is part of the RNC's pitch for its six-part health care plan for seniors, which the committee rolled out last week" (Barr, 9/1).

NPR reports on another communications tactic: "Over the weekend, a California-based political action committee launched a cross-country bus tour dubbed the "Tea Party Express." They plan to wind up the tour in Washington, D.C., next month - just about the time lawmakers return to the Capitol. Based in Sacramento, officials with the 'Our Country Deserves Better PAC' say they're trying to bring together people with a wide array of concerns that center on what they call heavy-handed government policies." The Express will pass through "about two dozen more cities, arriving in Washington on Sept. 12 for what the group calls 'a taxpayer march on D.C.'" (Brady, 8/31).

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