A top conservative nonprofit group is airing a television ad this week that aims to drive home what the group says are potentially catastrophic consequences of the Affordable Care Act for the nation’s doctors.
Americans for Prosperity, which took out the seven figure ad buy this week, says the campaign is an attempt to relay the personal consequences of Obamacare, as the law is commonly known.
The ad, titled "Doctor Questions," features Dr. Mary Ellen Gallagher, a family doctor and pediatrician. "I’ve treated sick kids for 15 years," Gallagher says. "Obamacare has me worried."
"Now I wonder, can I still work with parents to decide what’s best for their kids, or will the government be in the middle of things?" she asks.
The spot, which will air in Ohio and Virginia, is AFP’s largest ad buy of the year, and the second in a series that AFP spokesman Levi Russell said is designed to convey the law’s defects on a personal, emotional level.
"Obamacare is going to result in far more anecdotes and personal testimonies of its problems – the increased costs and the diminished choice and the regulatory strains – than it will positive stories," Levi said.
"I think that we need to show what the real impact is on people," he added.
Health care policy experts said the law’s expected effects on the nation’s doctors could be disastrous, but have not received much attention.
"Obamacare's implementation is already pushing doctors in small practices toward shutting down, seeking early retirement, or moving into larger practices with the infrastructure to handle the bureaucratic burdens and reporting requirements," said Ben Domenech, the managing editor of Health Care News at the Heartland Institute.
"It's good that AFP is highlighting this story, as it's one I've heard from countless doctors across the country," Domenech said in an email.
The Obama administration has undertaken a massive marketing push designed to both improve the public’s view of the law and encourage people to sign up for health insurance.
Debates over how best to address — and, eventually, repeal — the law, meanwhile, have recently roiled Republican ranks.
Levi said AFP’s new campaign steers clear of Beltway bickering in favor of personal stories that, he says, better relay the law’s consequences for those outside of the Beltway.
"There’s always a fight going on in Washington, but this effort really is trying to the the politics out of it and have average folks look at what the real impact of this law would be on them and on their families and make a decision as to whether that’s something they’re okay with," Levi said.
AFP is not ignoring the political fight — Levi noted that the law should be repealed —which, while esoteric, has revealed facts about the law that could fuel efforts by AFP and other groups to highlight its deficiencies.
A recent report from three House committees found that businesses, health care providers, and patients would spend 190 million hours per year complying with new regulations and requirements in the Obamacare law.
Levi pointed to those findings as emblematic of the burdens that the law will place on doctors and others.
The Office of Personnel Management on Thursday said it will exempt members of Congress and their staffs from provisions in the law that would have significantly raised their premiums.
That announcement followed a statement by acting Internal Revenue Service commissioner Daniel Werfel that he would rather keep his current insurance plan than enter an Obamacare health insurance exchange.