New American Bridge Web Ad Targets Koch Agenda

American Bridge is launching a new online ad campaign to fight back against the Koch-funded Americans For Prosperity attacks on Democrats running for Senate this year. Bridge’s new web ad, available here, begins running today and targets online searches for the Koch brothers in five states where AFP’s ads have been especially criticized or debunked: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and Michigan.

As the New York Times has reported, the Kochs and AFP’s real agenda is “convincing Americans that big government is bad government.” Already this cycle the Koch’s AFP has spent $30 million attacking Democrats in contested Senate races. Yet many of AFP’s ads have received harsh criticism for using paid actors implying they are local residents, vastly exaggerating claims against the Affordable Care Act, and even featuring a woman whose health care costs would be lower under the new law. Bridge’s new web campaign brings voters the truth behind these attacks.

Check out American Bridge’s new web ad: http://youtu.be/LZmhOT0LzFs

Background

Greg Sargent, Washington Post: American For Prosperity’s “Active Agenda Is To Take Away… The Same Economic Security And Peace Of Mind The Group Claims The Law Is Taking From Its Victims.” According to Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, “AFP is spending tens of millions on a campaign dramatizing the fear and uncertainty Obamacare is supposedly inflicting on unsuspecting Americans (who tend to be middle aged women). But when the expansion takes hold, it will become clearer that AFP’s active agenda is to take away from untold numbers of people precisely the same economic security and peace of mind the group claims the law is taking from its victims — even as AFP’s televised victims’ tales are turning out to be half-baked, misleading, or played by actors or GOP activists.” [Washington Post, 2/27/14]

Alaska

Alaska Dispatch: AFP Ad Used A Maryland Actress, Not An Alaska Citizen, “As The Ad Seems To Imply.” According to Alaska Dispatch, “The woman starring in a new television advertisement that was set to air in Alaska on Wednesday — and funded by Koch brothers-backed group Americans for Prosperity — attacks the Affordable Care Act and Alaska Sen. Mark Begich in one breath. In the ad, a woman addresses viewers from a sophisticated kitchen adorned with white cabinets. “I trusted the President and Sen. Begich. Lots of promises were made to pass Obamacare,” she says. Criticizing Begich’s support of the ACA, she asks, “How can I ever trust him again? It just isn’t fair. Alaska deserves better.” But the woman who laments her inability to trust the state’s lone Democratic senator is not an Alaskan voter, as the ad seems to imply. The woman is actually an actress from Maryland.” [Alaska Dispatch, 11/20/13]

The Same Actress Appeared In Ads Advocating Access To Mammograms. According to the Alaska Dispatch, “The same actress has appeared in an advertisement promoting access to mammograms, which Barinbaum called ‘ironic,’ given the medical nature of that promotion.”[Alaska Dispatch, 11/20/13]

The Affordable Care Act Expands Access To Mammograms. According to factcheck.org, “The Affordable Care Act actually improves coverage of mammograms for Medicare beneficiaries and an unknown number of women on private insurance, depending on what their insurance covered previously. The law requires Medicare to cover a yearly mammography screening at no cost to women starting at age 40. For private insurance plans, the law also requires coverage of mammograms, with no cost-sharing, every one to two years for women starting at age 40. For seniors, this is a step up in benefits: Before the health care law, mammograms were also covered, but with 20 percent cost-sharing. For private plans, coverage varied, but under the ACA, women get free mammograms as part of required preventive coverage. That’s for non-grandfathered plans starting on or after Sept. 23, 2010. ‘We know it’s a big change,” said Mona Shah, associate director of federal relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “We know based on research that even a small cost-sharing can be a deterrent to getting screened.'” [Factcheck.org, 10/13/13]

Arkansas

Wall Street Journal: AFP Ad In Arkansas Used Resident Who Claimed Her Health Care Plan Was Cancelled Even Though “No Arkansas Residents Have As Yet.” According to the Wall Street Jounral, “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. […] Mr. Obama said last November that the administration would allow insurance plans in effect on Oct. 1, 2013, to be “grandfathered” through the next year even though the plans didn’t meet minimum requirements for coverage under the ACA. Some states didn’t allow the extension, but Arkansas’s insurance commissioner granted a waiver allowing insurance plans to extend the plans through December 2014, and could delay that deadline again into 2015. That means that no Arkansas residents have as yet had their plans canceled due to the health care law.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/13/14]

Colorado

Colorado 9 News: AFP Ad In Colorado Used Actors To Claim That Millions Of People Became Uninsured, “Which Is Just Not The Case.” According to Clorado 9 News, “It comes from Americans for Prosperity, a group hated by the left that is funded in part by the Koch Brothers, who are wealthy conservative activists. The ad argues Obamacare is hurting people and it starts with some pretty easy claims made by an actress that seems to want to be your friend. […] The same actress saying this line appeared in nearly identical ads last fall, targeting several other members of Congress. Left-leaning blogs, like ColoradoPols, are jumping on AFP for running a “recycled” ad against Udall because of this. Of course, that says little about the substance of the ad’s claims on Obamacare. Let’s give those a look. […] By federal law, when they cancel a plan, insurance companies have to offer you an alternate plan if they want to stay in business. Of course, some of those alternate plans were more expensive and that caused trouble for people. But this ad is trying to make you believe that all those people just became uninsured, which is just not the case.” [9 News, 3/18/14]

Louisiana

AFP Ad In Louisiana Used Actors Pretending To Rural Louisiana Citizens. According to ABC News, “A new political attack ad from the Koch brothers-funded group Americans for Prosperity calls on Louisianans to tell Sen. Mary Landrieu that Obamacare is hurting their families. The ad shows a number of people, who appear to be Louisianans, opening their mail to find a letter stating that their health care policy has been cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act. […] But the people in the emotion-evoking ad are not Louisianans at all; they are paid actors.” [ABC News, 2/12/14]

Michigan

Woman In AFP Ad In Michigan Actually Saves Under The Affordable Care Act. According to the Huffington Post, “An ad AFP ran in Michigan came under fire last week because it told a misleading story about leukemia patient Julie Boonstra, who said her plan was canceled under Obamacare and she could no longer afford her health care costs. A fact-check revealed that Boonstra’s costs would actually be lower under the health care law.” [Huffington Post, 2/24/14]

Detroit News: AFP Ad Attacking Health Care Costs Featured Woman Who Would Actually Save Over $1,000 Thanks To The Affordable Care Act. According to the Detroit News, “A Dexter cancer patient featured in a conservative group’s TV ad campaign denouncing her new health care coverage as ‘unaffordable’ will save more than $1,000 this year. Julie Boonstra, 49, starred last month in an emotional television ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity that implied Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters’ vote for the Affordable Care Act made her medication so “unaffordable” she could die. Peters of Bloomfield Township is running for an open U.S. Senate seat against Republican Terri Lynn Land.”[Detroit News, 3/10/14]

Woman Saved $1,048 Under The Affordable Care Act. According to the Detroit News, “Boonstra said Monday her new plan she dislikes is the Blue Cross Premier Gold health care plan, which caps patient responsibility for out-of-pocket costs at $5,100 a year, lower than the federal law’s maximum of $6,350 a year. It means the new plan will save her at least $1,200 compared with her former insurance plan she preferred that was ended under Obamacare’s coverage requirements. A Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan spokesman said the insurer welcomes a chance to help members understand their benefits and alleviate concerns. “We are here to help people like Ms. Boonstra to work their way through adjusting to the health plans we are now offering them,” the Blue’s Andy Hetzel said. “If there are questions … they should call.” Boonstra’s old plan cost $1,100 a month in premiums or $13,200 a year, she previously told The News. That didn’t include money she spent on co-pays, prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket expenses. By contrast, the Blues’ plan premium costs $571 a month or $6,852 for the year. Since out-of-pocket costs are capped at $5,100 for in-network doctors and hospitals, including deductibles, the maximum Boonstra would pay this year for all of her cancer treatment is $11,952.”[Detroit News, 3/10/14]

Woman Claimed A Prescription Was Not Covered By Her New Plan, But It Was. According to the Detroit News, “She said she still fears her costs will be unaffordable because she could be hit with large out-of-pocket bills in the early months when she wouldn’t have the money to pay. She also said her out-of-pocket maximum could be higher than advertised because there’s one prescription that was previously covered by her old plan that isn’t and she now buys with a separate prescription discount card. Hetzel said he understands patients may be confused by their benefits as they adjust. Hetzel said the Blue Cross Premier Gold plan covers all prescriptions — from generics up to specialty drugs. He advises customers like Boonstra to use the coverage instead of a prescription discount card so co-pays would go toward meeting the out-of-pocket maximum.”[Detroit News, 3/10/14]

Woman In Ad Was Actually The Ex-Husband Of A GOP Official And Gov. Snyder Appointee. According to the Detroit News, “Boonstra is the ex-wife of Mark Boonstra, the former Washtenaw County GOP chairman whom Gov. Rick Snyder appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2012. Julie Boonstra said she’s never been a political person beyond advocating for lower-cost oral chemotherapy treatment in Washington.”[Detroit News 3/10/14]

Washington Post Fact Checker Gave The Ad “Three Pinochios.” According to the Washington Post, “In any case, one cannot claim that a plan is “unaffordable” when over the course of the year it will provide you with substantial savings. Thus we are changing the rating on this ad from Two Pinocchios to Three Pinocchios.” [Washington Post, 3/11/14]