Health Care Ad Blitz Targets Moderate Democrats

Posted May 27, 2009 at 2:30pm

A conservative group opposed to government-run health care launched a television ad blitz Wednesday that appears designed to pressure moderate Senate Democrats in eight Republican-leaning states.

Patients United Now, a 501(c)(3) and an offshoot of the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Prosperity, is spending $800,000 to run a 60-second ad for one week on broadcast and cable television in Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Virginia.

The spot features a Canadian citizen telling the camera how she nearly died from a brain tumor because Canada’s government-run health care system put her on a six-month waiting list for treatment.

“I survived a brain tumor. But if I had relied on my government for health care, I’d be dead,— Shona Holmes says. “I’m here today because I was able to travel to the U.S., where I received world-class treatment. Government health care isn’t the answer.—

A Patients United Now spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that more ad campaigns pushing back against President Barack Obama’s health care reform plans could be in the offing.

Probably not coincidentally, the states where the ad is targeted are home to moderate Democratic Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Jim Webb (Va.) — as well as freshman Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the chief architect of the emerging health care bill in the Senate.

Bayh and Lincoln are up for re-election in 2010.

“We certainly need health care reform, but we need reform that will protect the rights of patients, not trample all over them,— Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, said in a statement. “Instead of pushing policies that will replace private health care with a Washington-run, nationalized health care system, we should promote reforms that will ensure patients have the freedom to make decisions about their doctors and treatments.—

Patients United Now is also conducting a series of grass-roots events to push its health care agenda in various cities — the first one occurred Saturday in Williamsburg, Va.

Baucus has laid out an ambitious schedule for bringing a health care reform bill to the Senate floor. He plans to mark up legislation in June and possibly hold a vote on the bill before the Senate adjourns for the August recess.

Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders, including Baucus, would like the bill to include a government-run insurance option in addition to already existing private coverage. Liberal Democrats say a public plan is needed to help insure patients who are turned away by private companies.

Conservatives warn that the government would use this option to financially undercut private companies and purposely drive patients into the public plan — a move that they caution would lead to the rationing of medical services and reduction in the quality of care currently available.