TV Ad Wars Beginning Over Health Overhaul Proposals
The Associated Press reports that ads focused on congressional efforts to overhaul the nation's system are now appearing and will heat up as the summer progresses. "Through June 27, $31 million has been spent for roughly 47,000 TV ads on health care this year, says Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, a firm that tracks issue advertising. That's double the roughly $14 million the insurance industry spent in 1993 and 1994 for the famous 'Harry and Louise' ads..., but a fraction of the $250 million Tracey guesses will ultimately be spent this year."
The AP reports that Tracey says the initial ads have been an effort "to shape the early debate" and are "really being aimed at some people in the administration, some people on Capitol Hill, a whole bunch of reporters, a few bloggers." According to Tracey's organization, so far "about $15 million has been spent on ads favoring the Democrats' push to revamp the health care system and $4 million to oppose it." In addition, $12 million has supported "ads generally favoring better health care - nearly all of it by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, representing drug makers, which hopes its market will expand if more people have insurance."
The AP notes these figures may be lower than actual expenditures because several groups are "reporting higher figures reflecting costs Tracey doesn't track."
The AP also details ads by groups such as Patients United Now and Conservatives for Patients Rights, both of which oppose current proposals such as the public plan. "[Conservatives for Patients Rights] spokesman Brian Burgess says the group has spent over $4.5 million on TV ads that have run hundreds of times this year, mostly criticizing public health coverage."
"On the other side, progressive and labor groups have not been shy about using ads to assail Democrats viewed as insufficiently loyal in the struggle. Health Care for America Now says it plans to spend $11 million on TV ads. The group is funded by labor, liberal groups and the progressive Atlantic Philanthropies...." Other groups, including MoveOn.org and the Laborers International Union of North America, also have begun running targeted ads (Fram, 7/06).