The Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity has decided to go on the offensive attacking the Affordable Care Act, investing over $6 million to air this ad in 11 battleground states.
For those who can’t watch clips online, the ad features a Canadian woman named Shona Holmes, who said she came to the United States for medical care when, according to the story, there was a dangerously long wait to see a brain specialist in Canada. The American system, Holmes says in the ad, “was there for me when I needed it.”
Now, I don’t know anything about Holmes or her plight, but let’s say for the sake of argument that every word of this is 100% accurate. Let’s assume that she needed a brain specialist, faced a long wait in her native country, and was able to receive life-saving care here in the U.S. I have a hunch there’s more to this, but just for conversation, let’s accept the claims on faith.
The follow-up to this is pretty straightforward: what in the world does this have to do with President Obama and the Affordable Care Act? And why do the Koch brothers think we’re dumb?
Under the logic of the Kochs’ attack ad, if a health care system didn’t work for someone, it’s proof that health care system is a broken model to be avoided. But if that’s true, can we talk about the Americans who died because they lacked basic access to affordable care? Or for that matter, the Canadians who lived because they received treatment that lower-income Americans wouldn’t have received?
Or even more to the point, the American system under the ACA is in no way similar to the Canadian system. The Americans for Prosperity attack ad features on-screen text that reads, “Under President Obama, America’s health care is becoming more like the Canadian system that failed Shona.”
The problem with this is that it’s completely at odds with reality. The only aspect of the American system similar to Canada’s is our Medicare program – and it’s extremely popular in the U.S.
In order for this ad to work, the Koch brothers are assuming voters don’t understand American health care, don’t understand Canadian health care, don’t understand the differences between the two, and don’t realize just how many millions of Americans suffered – and literally died – because of the failures of the old system. That’s a whole lot of ignorance to count on.
Update: One related thought: if the “Obamacare” system is so dangerously life-threatening, why is it working well in Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney created a state-based model?