Monday, September 17, 2012

Outrageous TV

One thing about recovering from major surgery, it takes longer than a couple weeks.....  During recuperation, the TV has been on more than usual.  I've actually watched some of the political advertising, expecting hyperbole, but not outright dishonesty.  Why the shock?  I guess I let hope for a cleaner presidential campaign get the better of me.

My special ire targets Americans for Prosperity.  Now, there's nothing wrong with wanting economic freedom.  Who doesn't want to be rich?  But that's not all they talk about in their TV ads.  One in particular I finally took notes on in order to remember it.  This TV ad especially bothered me because it was about the Affordable Care Act but wasn't mentioned once.  Maybe you've seen it?

"Shona Holmes" (from

In the ad, a Canadian woman named Shona Holmes claims that when she tried to get in to see specialists in Canada for a life-threatening brain condition she'd developed, she was told she'd have to wait 4-6 months.  They do have emergency rooms in Canadian hospitals, right?  If it was that life-threatening, she needed to go to the ER.  But no, instead, she decides to come south of the border to get treatment in the U.S.  Really?  Clearly whoever scripted this ad has never been a new patient trying to get in to see a specialist in the U.S.  The wait can be up to 6 months for a new patient.  Unless that patient has a primary physician willing to do a referral and call the specialist to arrange for an earlier appointment.  No one can just call up a medical specialist in the U.S., and I mean any specialist, not only neurologists, and expect to be seen the next day.

I wondered where Ms. Holmes sought treatment in the U.S.?  How long did she wait to see a specialist?  How did she pay for the treatment that supposedly saved her life?  Was the medical issue really life-threatening?  Was Ms. Holmes really a Canadian?  From where in Canada?  And why would she agree to do a TV ad attacking the Canadian medical care system in favor of the American? (I suspect the answer to the last is money.) 

My years in advertising and marketing showed me the behind the scenes work that goes into a TV ad.  I wouldn't be surprised if the woman was an actress hired to play the character of Shona Holmes from Canada, to list her symptoms of failing eyesight (did she visit an eye doctor first?) and appeal to the American sense of fair play with a little story of how "dangerous" the Canadian system had become.  The ad claims that if President Obama is elected, the American system will go the way of Canada and we'll lose "patient-centered" medical care.

First, President Obama has no control over when doctors see their patients.  The market does.  If there is a glut of gastroenterologists in a city, it'll be easy to get in to see one fairly quickly.  If there's not that many, it'll be harder to get in with a longer wait.  The better the specialist, the harder it will be to get in as a new patient.  Some doctors do not accept new patients, also.

Second, the Affordable Care Act addresses the medical insurance industry and its practices in covering patients.  It makes it impossible for them to deny coverage, essentially, regardless of what doctor a patient sees.  I fully expect that in 2014 when the ACA reaches full implementation, I will keep all my medical team that currently cares for me.  Patient-centered medical care will continue in the U.S.  What will change is that the insurance companies will have to cover everyone.  They will no longer be able to cherry-pick their policy holders.

What really bothers me is that there are people who will see this TV ad and believe it.  They won't analyze it critically or even wonder if the woman in it is really Canadian.  They will swallow this hook, line and sinker, as my father used to say.  As a result, they will be misled, misinformed, and sadly, expecting far more of Mitt Romney that he can deliver.  After all, it was Gov. Romney who implemented in Massachusetts the state equivalent of the Affordable Care Act, and I'd be very surprised if he turned his back on that accomplishment.  All anyone has to do is look to Massachusetts to see how it works.

Here are some informative links related to this post:
Americans for Prosperity
"Conservative group's ad compares American health care to Canada's system" "Dying on a wait list?"
Crooks & Liars: "Reality Check on Shona Holmes"

I wonder if Shona Holmes will understand that rather than fame she has gained notoriety because of this Republican TV ad?  Americans for Prosperity is a super-PAC, an organization that the Supreme Court made possible last year.  So, instead of millions of dollars flooding into a candidate's campaign coffers or those of the political parties, they flow into the super-PACs who are not bound by any rules for campaign advertising.  These organizations began to gain influence after the turn of the century.  How are they good for America?  I mean, really?

And then I think about all the millions and millions of dollars that super-PACs spend on advertising, and the candidates spend on theirs, and wonder how anyone could question the power of the wealthy one-percenters...and to what better use that money could be put.


Daughter Number Three said...

Thanks for keeping watch on the ads. I haven't heard about this one.

Have you read this piece by a conservative American woman who moved to Canada and changed her mind about universal health care?

Gina said...

Thanks, Pat. Haven't seen the blog post from the American woman living in Canada. Should be interesting.....