Health Care Ads: Return of the Death Panels?

I guess today or next week the Supremes are going to have to opine on Obama’s health care plan. And ready or not, many Americans — and American businesses — have already decided they don’t like the plan, especially the individual mandate that would require everyone to get insurance. Credit effective advertising in large part for this. When the pols first started heading down this road, I figured it would be a slam dunk.

Here’s from the NYT, “Distaste for Health Care Law Reflects Spending on Ads“:

Erika Losse is precisely the kind of person President Obama’s signature health care law is intended to help. She has no health insurance. She relies on her mother to buy her a yearly checkup as a Christmas gift, and she pays out of her own pocket for the rest of her medical care, including $1,250 for a recent ultrasound.

But Ms. Losse, 33, a part-time worker at a bagel shop, is no fan of the law, which will require millions of uninsured Americans like herself to get health coverage by 2014. Never mind that Ms. Losse, who makes less than $35,000 a year, would probably qualify for subsidized insurance under the law.

“I’m positive I can’t afford it,” she said.

A Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the health care law is expected any day now, but even if the Obama administration wins in the nation’s highest court, most evidence suggests it has lost miserably in the court of public opinion. National polls have consistently found the health care law has far more enemies than friends, including a recent New York Times/CBS News poll that found more than two-thirds of Americans hope the court will overturn some or all of it.

“The Democrats have done a very poor job of selling the program,” said Gary Schiff, 65, a retired teacher and businessman here. “All you hear about it now is the Republicans saying what’s wrong with it: that it’s socialism, that it’s going to bankrupt the country. I’ll give them credit; they’re great at framing the debate.”

That success may stem in large part from more than $200 million in advertising spending by an array of conservative groups, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($27 million) to Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS ($18 million), which includes the billionaire Sheldon Adelson among its donors, and the American Action Network ($9 million), founded by Fred V. Malek, an investor and prominent Republican fund-raiser.

In all, about $235 million has been spent on ads attacking the law since its passage in March 2010, according to a recent survey by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. Only $69 million has been spent on advertising supporting it. Just $700,000 of that comes from the Obama campaign, and none of its ads mentioning the law are currently being broadcast, said Elizabeth Wilner, vice president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group. “It explains, in a nutshell, why polling shows attitudes about the law to be at best mixed,” she said.

On the other side, the 60 Plus Association, a conservative lobbying group for older Americans, has targeted Democratic senators up for re-election with about $10 million in ads warning that under the law, “unaccountable bureaucrats” will be able to “ration care.”

Say what: “ration care”? I’m about to enter Medicare — which is greatly appreciated even though it seems a little like something socialists would love — and the last thing I want to hear about is “ration care.” I have every intention of going before a death panel at age 100 and arguing for triple hip replacement.

Oops. Sorry. I lost the thread.

Anyway, when Obama came along with his notions of hope and change, I figured that a national health care program — similar in concept to Medicare and Medicaid — would be in the offing for most everyone.

Guess not.

Regardless of what the Supremes say.

 

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