WASHINGTON (CNN) - Supporters of President Obama's approach to health care reform are pouring millions of dollars into television commercials this year to help promote it, outspending opponents on the air by a margin of greater than 2-to-1.
Pro-Obama interest groups have spent $8.2 million on TV, while groups that oppose his proposal have countered with $3.2 million in commercials to help shape the extremely contentious debate over how best to reform the nation's health care system.
In all, more than $22 million has been spent on television commercials on the health care issue so far this year, according to an analysis conducted by Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on political television advertising.
"Television advertising played a defining role in the defeat of President Clinton's plan for national healthcare," said Evan Tracey, CMAG's president. "Fast forward to 2009, and we have seen more money spent in just a few months than was spent in the entire debate in the 1990s."
The biggest spender on TV ads has been the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, which has invested $10 million on commercials that promote the general idea of health care reform. But PhRMA is also part of two separate pro-Obama coalitions - "Healthy Economy Now," and "America's Agenda: Health Care for Kids" - which have spent over $3 million and $4.2 million, respectively, advocating for the president's plan.
"Healthy Economy Now" is comprised of organizations ranging from Families USA to Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "America's Agenda: Health Care for Kids" is made up of several unions, IBM and PhRMA.
The main group opposing the Obama health care proposal is "Conservatives for Patients' Rights," which has spent $3 million on TV ads. The organization is headed by Richard Scott, a founder of Columbia Hospital Corporation and Solantic. Scott describes Solantic on CRP's Web site as a company that "builds and operates innovative, cost and service conscious urgent care facilities throughout Florida."
"What the early advertising shows us is that both sides have a lot at stake, and will spend whatever it takes in the battle to influence the American public to pressure lawmakers," Tracey said.
House and Senate lawmakers are currently debating how best to address health care reform this year. Obama has called on Congress to deliver him a bill by October.