An Axios analysis released Wednesday found that spending on healthcare advertisements has exceeded $65 million in 2019 as dark money organizations, the insurance industry, and Big Pharma ramp up their campaigns against Medicare for All and other proposed reforms.
"More than half of all issue advertising this year has been on healthcare," according to Axios, "and that spending will only increase as the 2020 campaign gets closer."
Doctor Patient Unity, a dark money group that purports to represent doctors but doesn't publicly disclose its members, has been the biggest spender on healthcare ads this year, Axios found. The group has spent $26 million to date in 2019 into an effort to defeat bipartisan legislation aimed at curbing surprise medical bills.
The organization sent mailers to the Michigan district of Republican Rep. Tim Walberg earlier this month warning that billing reform efforts in Congress are "the first step towards Socialists' Medicare for All dream."
Axios also reported that One Nation, a GOP dark money group aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was among the top five groups that spent the most on healthcare in 2019. In June, the Republican organization launched a nationwide $4 million television, radio, and digital ad campaign against Medicare for All.
Barb Kalbach, president of the board of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund, wrote in a Guardian op-ed Wednesday that massive ad spending by dark money groups and the insurance industry shows they are "hanging on for dear life to a business model that returns obscene profits for insurance executives at the expense of cancer patients, cardiac patients, and people struggling to pay for their insulin."
Kalbach pointed to the Iowa ad blitz by the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, an insurance industry front group, as an example of the "distortions and scare tactics" corporate interests are deploying to stamp out Medicare for All, which is now supported by a majority of the House Democratic caucus.
"The insurance companies are working hard to shift the blame and stop the movement for Medicare for All," said Kalbach. "We won't be so easily fooled. Americans know that we deserve guaranteed, comprehensive healthcare, including hospital visits, dental, vision, mental healthcare, and dignified long-term care. We know that no one should have to beg for help on GoFundMe to pay for life-saving care."