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Health reform ad war clears $200M mark

By Ben Pershing
As negotiations on Capitol Hill over health-care reform reach their final phase, so too has the record-breaking battle of the airwaves.

Total television ad spending on all sides of the health-care debate has now exceeded $200 million, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. No other past issue advocacy campaign tracked by the firm has cost even a quarter of that amount.

Through July, supporters of Democrats' reform plans had outspent anti-reform groups by more than a 2-to-1 margin. But opponents have stepped up their efforts since then, and CMAG puts the current tally at $95 million for reform, $86 million against it and roughly $25 million for ads with neutral messages or focused on narrow slices of the reform debate.

Health Care for America Now, a coalition of pro-reform groups, launched a $400,000 ad campaign Tuesday calling for "good health care we can afford with the choice of a public health insurance option." The spot, embedded above, is airing on national cable as well as local D.C. stations, part of a multimedia "Finish Reform Right" campaign by the group.

On a narrower scale, the Coalition for a Competitive Pharmaceutical Market, backed by generic drug makers, aired a Christmas-themed ad in late December urging Congress to "stop putting brand drug company profits over patients."

But while a handful of groups are still trying to use ads to influence the bill before the House and Senate agree and send it to President Obama's desk, others are looking forward to the effect the health-care measure will have on 2010.

"I think we're in this spot right now where regardless of what happens with the final bills, it has moved into the political landscape," said Evan Tracey, CMAG's chief operating officer. In the last month, Tracey said, many ads have "more or less become electioneering."

After the Senate voted Christmas Eve to approve its version of the health-care measure, Sen. Ben Nelson (D) launched a television ad in Nebraska explaining to his constituents -- the majority of whom, polls show, oppose the reform bill -- why he voted against it. The spot came after several months during which a host of groups, including Americans for Prosperity and the Independent Women's Forum, aired ads urging Nelson to oppose the measure.

Nelson isn't up for reelection until 2012, but health care-centered ad campaigns are expected to heat up in several 2010 House and Senate contests.

By Ben Pershing  |  January 6, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Health Care  
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Comments


An arm of the Federal Reserve, then led by now-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, told bailed-out insurance giant AIG to withhold key details from the public about overpayments that put billions of extra tax dollars in the coffers of major Wall Street firms, most notably Goldman Sachs.

The sordid tale unfolds in a series of e-mails between the company and the New York Fed obtained by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and first publicly disclosed by Bloomberg News.

Posted by: lucygirl1 | January 7, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

If the republican/insurance companies win don't worry they will never lose a dime because when this is over we will get ripped more than ever so don't cry if you are believing what the republicans are telling you. They have never and never will do anything except for corporate America so the kick-back money can keep rolling in.

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | January 7, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

CORRECTION needed. Right now this reads:

"After the Senate voted Christmas Eve to approve its version of the health-care measure, Sen. Ben Nelson (D) launched a television ad in Nebraska explaining to his constituents -- the majority of whom, polls show, oppose the reform bill -- why he voted against it."

Um, wouldn't that be "why he voted for it."?

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | January 6, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

An absurd amount of money. For or against healthcare reform, I couldn't fathom a situation where I would consent to tax dollars being spent in this way.

Posted by: davsnp | January 6, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

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