California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Democrats Spend More on Advertising Positions Critical of Reform Law

Democratic candidates have spent more than three times as much on advertising critical of the federal health reform law than they have in support of it, according to a new analysis from Kantar Media, Politico reports.

According to Evan Tracey of Kantar, since the start of Congress' summer recess in August, Democrats have spent $930,000 on anti-reform ads, compared with $300,000 on ads favorable to the overhaul. Even the Democratic campaign ads praising the law have offered "tepid support" for the overhaul, according to Politico.

For example, a recent ad for Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) briefly mentions his support for the overhaul, but the information is "sandwiched" between his other accomplishments, according to Politico. "When the economy collapsed, Sen. Feingold helped pass tax cuts for 95% of Wisconsin [families]," the ad's script stated, adding, "Russ also fought for tax credits for small businesses and relief from rising health care costs."

Opponents Outspending Proponents

The Kantar analysis also found that since early August, opponents of the overhaul have spent $14 million -- or seven times the amount that proponents have spent -- on ads criticizing the health care law. That is a significant change since early May, when reform opponents outspent proponents by a two-to-one margin.

It is not just Republicans advertising against the overhaul; at least five House Democrats are running re-election ads highlighting their votes against the reform law.

The most significant ad buy in support of the overhaul has come from the recently launched Health Information Center, which is rolling out a three-week, $1.8 million national ad campaign in support of the reform law. Tracey described the HIC campaign -- intended to highlight some of the more popular provisions of the overhaul -- as "one voice screaming in a crowd," adding, "They're not going to get heard with everyone else screaming" (Kliff, Politico, 9/16).

Labor Unions Reconsider Stance Against Anti-Reform Democrats

In related news, labor unions that supported the health care overhaul have begun rethinking their pledge to work against Democratic candidates who voted against health reform legislation, The Hill's "Ballot Box" reports.

Union officials are concerned about the possibility of Republicans regaining control of Congress, particularly the House.
Larry Scanlon -- political director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees -- said he expects more labor unions to shift their support to Democrats who voted against the overhaul (Bogardus/Miller, "Ballot Box," The Hill, 9/15).

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