After all the recent troubles conservatives have had with “Obamacare victims” in attack ads that turned out to be wrong, the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity wouldn’t push its luck with another dubious commercial, would it?
Conservative group Americans for Prosperity launched a $700,000 ad campaign targeting Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) for his support of the Affordable Care Act. The ad, which will be broadcast statewide beginning Thursday and running for the next three weeks, brings the group’s total spending on the Senate race to more than $1.3 million.In the ad, a woman identified as Wanda of Marion, Ark., says Blue Cross Blue Shield notified her and her husband that their health coverage would be canceled as of December 2014. “Well now, when somebody tells you if you like it, you can keep it, you believe them,” she says, referring to remarks President Barack Obama made when he was touting the health care law. “But that’s not so in this case.”
It’s worth emphasizing that the pushback against deceptive advertising from the Affordable Care Act’s foes appear to have had some effect – this new AFP spot is more restrained than many of its predecessors. (Unlike the recent Michigan attack, this one doesn’t falsely suggest the health care law will endanger the lives of cancer patients.)
Indeed, it was of great interest to see that this Arkansas spot steers clear of many factual claims that would draw the scrutiny of fact-checkers. The woman in the ad, for example, doesn’t mention whether or not she’s saving money, or whether she’s any worse off than before.
The offensive is more straightforward: Wanda had one health plan and now she’s complaining about getting a new plan. That’s it. That’s the attack.
But as is too often the case with these ads, there are some problems with the basics in the AFP’s new spot.
First, we learned after the ad was launched that neither Wanda nor anyone else in Arkansas is actually having their plans canceled under “Obamacare.”
The problem is that earlier this month, the Arkansas Insurance Department released a bulletin explaining that the state’s insurance providers could follow a recently announced federal change that would allow people with non-compliant plans to stay on them as late as October 2017.Heather Haywood, a public information manager with the state’s insurance department, elaborated upon the change in an email to The Huffington Post Thursday.“Insurance carriers sent notifications to consumers that coverage under health policies that did not comply with the ACA, would end December 2014,” Haywood wrote. “Pursuant to the March 5 CCIIO Bulletin – extension of transitional policy through October 1, 2016 – Arkansas Insurance Commissioner [Jay] Bradford issued AID Bulletin 6-2014 extending coverage through October 1, 2016.”
The total number of Arkansans whose health plans have been canceled as a result of the Affordable Care Act? According to the Wall Street Journal’s tally, the answer is zero.
In other words, the premise of this simple attack ad is at odds with reality.
Making matters slightly worse is the larger context. Americans for Prosperity is running this misleading commercial, arguing that the health care reform law is leading to Arkansans losing coverage they may like. At the exact same time, as Brian Beutler noted, Americans for Prosperity is urging state policymakers to take away coverage for Arkansans who have coverage they may like.
The Koch-backed group has been more relentless in its efforts to block the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion than just about any advocacy organization. And in Arkansas, where this ad is on the air, the group pushed hard for the state to reverse its Medicaid expansion, which would have canceled coverage for the 100,000 people who had already signed up in the state.
Brian called this evidence of “incredible chutzpah,” which is putting it mildly.