Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity forgets to mention Republican activist ties, anti-Obamacare sentiments of women featured in ads, among more egregious errors
Concord, NH –Billionaire Koch brothers funded group Americans for Prosperity released new TV ads in New Hampshire today that share the story of two New Hampshire women who purportedly lost their health insurance because of Obamacare. What the ad and accompanying press materials don’t do is provide enough information for reporters and the public to determine whether the ad message fits reality. AFP has already been under fire in other states for its misleading ads. In “More Obamacare horror stories: Do they add up?” The Washington Post writes about the AFP ad fiasco in Michigan which was quickly debunked by Glenn Kessler, and draws potential parallels to the latest ad targeting New Hampshire leaders today. (Article below.) A starter look at the New Hampshire ads already reveals inconsistencies and loose rhetoric. Here’s more on each specific ad:
AFP-NH Ad on Rep. Shea-Porter
Helen DePrima of Bedford states she lost her secondary health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, and that her cost for prescription drugs increased.
- Did DePrima’s overall health care costs go down because of the Medicare provisions in the ACA? It appears that DePrima is likely primarily covered by Medicare; the ad does not mention the many ways that DePrima and other seniors will benefit under the Affordable Care Act – such as how Medicare now covers certain preventive services, like mammograms or colonoscopies, without charging for the Part B coinsurance or deductible. It also provides a free yearly “Wellness” visit.
- Is the increased cost in her new plan off-set by the lowered cost overall? The ad only discusses that DePrima’s cost for prescription drugs has increased, but it doesn’t say if her premium has gone down. It also doesn’t mention that the ACA works to close the Medicare donut hole and that seniors who are in it now get a 50% discount when buying Part D-covered brand-name prescription drugs.
- Why does the ad punt on whether DePrima’s medications are covered? The ad has DePrima state that “some of my medications may not be covered” but it doesn’t say whether or not that is actually true. If DePrima has already selected a plan or reviewed them enough to assert that her cost for prescriptions has spiked, then it is questionable why the ad can’t also say whether those medications are covered.
- About DePrima: DePrima has been critical of the health law before, using borderline ‘death panel’ language in a letter to the editor of the local paper in July 2012.
AFP-NH needs to provide more information to back-up the claims made in this TV ad.
AFP-NH Ad on Rep. Kuster
Donna Marzullo of Deering states her insurance policy was cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act, and that she’s not sure if she can keep her doctor or hospital of choice.
- The ad neglects to indicate that Marzullo’s plan covers her until November 2014. The TV ad makes it appear that the cancellation letter means Marzullo has just been dropped from coverage; the press release states her policy actually ends in November 2014. This also begs the question of when Marzullo purchased her coverage. The Celtics customer care line recording states that policies purchased prior to October 2013 will be ending and most plans are sold in one-year increments. Did Celtic sell her a policy last November for which it then turned around and sent a cancellation notice? If so, Marzullo likely would have known that a cancellation was imminent. Or, it’s possible that Marzullo had an unusual policy plan year. Reporters should follow up for more details.
- Which consumer protections does Marzullo’s current plan not cover, and how does she feel about them? Non-grandfathered health plans have to meet a deadline this year for coming into compliance with new consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act. Marzullo’s current plan does not cover some of those important protections – which consumer protections does she want to go without? Potential reasons for the cancellation include that the insurance plan does not limit out-of-pocket spending, or that it does not cover essential health benefits. Most Americans support the popular consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act.
- AFP-NH wrongly states that Marzullo will lose access to hospitals close to her. The press release states “… Marzullo will lose access to the two hospitals nearest her (Concord Hospital and Monadnock Hospital) when her policy ends in November.” But that’s not right: there’s no way to know which hospitals will be covered in Marzullo’s new plan until she picks one. In fact, the insurance company she currently uses is continuing to sell plans in the state outside of the marketplace; there are over 500 providers within 25 miles of Deering available under this year’s plan with Celtic – including Monadnock Hospital.
- The TV ad also misrepresents why Concord Hospital isn’t available in the marketplace plans. The ad misrepresents why Concord Hospital is not included in Anthem’s marketplace plans. Concord Hospital was approached to be in the plan offerings, but the hospital and insurance company couldn’t agree on rates so Concord Hospital turned it down. This is the free market approach conservatives wanted instead of the public option, and it mirrors how insurance companies and hospitals currently negotiate networks.
- About Marzullo: Donna Marzullo is the wife of NH GOP Vice Chair J.P. Marzullo. She is also the Vice Chair of the Contoocook Valley Republican Committee.
AFP-NH takes cheap shots in this TV ad and avoids sharing the full picture.
Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:
“Americans for Prosperity has always opposed health care reform. AFP-NH wants to return to a broken system of insurance company abuses and low quality, high cost health coverage. The group even held events last summer actively discouraging people from accessing quality, affordable health care. Real health care advocates are looking for ways to get more people covered, and to improve the coverage that is already out there. We’re speaking to people like the women in this ad to explain the changes and educate them about the new consumer protections, such as how insurance companies can no longer drop you from coverage when you get sick. These are important provisions that increase economic and health security for Granite State families. Americans for Prosperity is ideologically opposed to health care for all, they offer no solutions and only work to slow or obstruct health care reform efforts.”