-- by Seep Paliwal
Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a conservative advocacy group founded and funded by David Koch, is spearheading an ad campaign aimed at young women attacking the 2010 federal health reform law dubbed "ObamaCare." It is spending more than $1 million to run the ad in Virginia and Ohio, with plans to expand it to a total of seven states.
The placement of the ads in these states is no coincidence. Virginia has an election for governor and state legislature this fall, and the GOP sees Ohio as extremely important for 2014, with Governor John Kasich struggling with weak poll numbers. The ad features a young mother of two who worries about medical care for her son who has seizures.
The woman in AFP's ad, "Julie," expresses alarming concerns that the Affordable Care Act will hurt her ability to have access to high quality healthcare for her son. She wonders if she will be able to choose her own doctor or if she will be getting her money's worth by paying higher premiums. She ends the ad by wondering whether she can trust the government with her family's healthcare.
"Julie's" fears that she will be forced to use a certain doctor are unjustified, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, but it does not force patients to see certain doctors. Most of the patients who will be buying into the insurance exchanges will be previously uninsured, and those who choose to change plans will likely be able to ensure their current doctor is covered. The plan creates a network of practitioners from which patients may choose. Nearly all of the state insurance exchanges plan to allow patients to view networks before electing to join. Additionally, current health insurance companies already severely limit the network of practitioners from which a patient may choose, making the exchange no different from current practice.
The AFP ads are part of a sustained, multi-pronged campaign against ObamaCare. This session, the GOP voted to repeal Obamacare some 37 times in the House of Representatives, a seemingly absurd exercise that keeps attention focused on opposition to the measure in an attempt to legitimize the argument that it could be stopped and overturned. By maintaining public perception that the measure is not settled law, opponents of the measure keep the controversy alive as a campaign issue for the 2014 Congressional elections.
Since the health care plan has not been fully implemented, it is indeed possible that snafus will provide further openings for critics to continue their efforts to tear down the law. But if all goes well, headlines like today's in the New York Times "Health Care Plans for New Yorkers Set to Fall 50 Percent," will make their task much more difficult.