Millions Spent in Final Push on Health Care Bill

Published May 31, 2016

Aware that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was operating on a razor thin margin as wary Democrats in swing districts decided whether to vote in favor of President Obama’s overhaul of the American health care system, activist groups on both sides of the issue invested millions of dollars in television ads during the final days of the health care battle.

In the two weeks prior to the March 21 vote, tens of millions of dollars in advertising from unions, insurers, manufacturers, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce poured into key districts of undecided members of Congress.

Pro-reform group Americans for Stable Quality Care, working alongside labor group SEIU, announced they would run ads supporting the bill in key states and costing more than $10 million. PhRMA announced a final $6 million ad buy in 38 House districts of key Democrats, after having spent over $150 million on ads since last fall according to the New York Times.

Business and Manufacturers Oppose

On the opposition side, the Chamber ran a ten day campaign costing roughly $10 million, featuring television ads in seventeen states, according to spokesperson Bruce Josten.

“The president’s plan is a deficit exploder. Even if, and it’s a big if, all of the presidents projected deficit savings were all to come to pass, despite what’s been said by the Congressional Budget Office and Medicare’s chief actuary who doubt they will, it will not make up for the deficit projections of $1.2 trillion over the next ten years,” Josten told Health Care News.

Jeri Kubicki, vice president for Human Resources of the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, DC, said that her membership organizations felt the reform package lacked a sufficient response to cost problems.

“The majority of our members, 97 percent, already provide generous health care benefits. We entered this debate to reduce costs, but our members think that unfortunately, the core of this debate does more damage than good when it comes to cost,” Kubicki said.

Business and Manufacturers Oppose

According to Chamber of Commerce president Thomas J. Donohue, the House made a decision that “ignores the will of the American people.”

“This $900 billion, 2800 page bill is not health care reform. It fails to fix what is broken and risks breaking what already works. It will drive up health care costs and make coverage less affordable for businesses and families. It marks a major step down the road to a government-run health care system. It will further expand entitlements and explode the deficit, and raises taxes by a half a trillion dollars at the worst possible time,” Donohue told reporters on a conference call.

Kubicki said American jobs and economic growth are hurt by the decision to pass the bill.

“Because the bills are going to increase costs, our members are holding off on investing in other areas,” Kubicki said. “America needs more jobs, and this bill will increase our members’ costs, helping keep unemployment high.”

Benjamin Domenech ([email protected]) is the Managing Editor of Health Care News. Mark Impomeni ([email protected]) writes from New Jersey.