June 25th, 2009
04:08 PM ET
14 years ago

First on the Ticker: $22 mln spent on health care TV ads

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.

Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Paul from Phoenix

    That $22 million probably could have been spent on helping people get insurance. Just a thought.

    June 25, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. knormb

    An interesting way to boost our economy!!!

    June 25, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. Robin

    Waste of my hard earned tax dollars.

    June 25, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. katiec

    Because of the misinformation put out by those who want to destroy the health care reform, am glad to see ads giving people the truth
    about what the health care plan is and does.
    The party of no will, as usual, support big business over the welfare of the American people and resort to any means possible.
    We have overwhelmingly proved that we support public option, requiring competition in health care costs and it is dismaying that
    there are politicians who refuse to acknowledge or listen to us.

    June 25, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. Lynn

    Good! Let me call them up and donate some more.

    The only way we are going to get the truth out about medical care and greedy insurance companies in this country is to buy media to do it. The opponents of health care reform got their lies and fear mongering out early.

    June 25, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. LIP

    Makes you wonder why, doesn't it? Are there any special interest groups, lobbyists or pharmaceutical companies that will benefit financially from his plan?

    June 25, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  7. joe m

    here is a suggestions for these groups supporting the president's push for health care reform. instead of spending all that money on ads and PR why not divert it towards paying for the policy. heck 30M is a good start towards 1 trillion.

    June 25, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  8. Sandra

    I LOVE IT......

    I am a TV Commercial Designer. I Get lot of Business from these Political Ads.


    June 25, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. susie

    They should pool the money together in put it an a health care savings for the illegal immigrants.

    June 25, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. Frank

    What an embarrassment of a president.

    I guess that's what we get for hiring somebody who has never had a real job.

    June 25, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. a little sad

    I'm waiting for the ads that point out the fraud and abuse perpetrated by HCA while Rick Scott was the CEO, since his is the face I see most often in the newest scare tactics ads.

    June 25, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. jason, tx

    Good. We have to undo all the lies handed out to people so we can get this thing passed.

    June 25, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Some republican guy

    This is socialism!!! ACORN and the narcissistic obamabots and the koolaid drinking libtards want to take away my health insurance. The obamabots will decide what doctor I get to see and refuse to cover certain operations and procedures. HMOs would never do stuff like that! They would look out for my best interest! Have a nice day!

    June 25, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. Brian in AZ

    And that's not including the money spent by ABC while whoring themselves into Obamacare surrogates.

    Yeah, since replacing greedy insurance companies with greedy beltway bureaucrats is SO much better...And concern over a measly $1.6 trillion isn't "fear mongering". It's prudent. At least to those of us whose lips aren't superglued to the gov't teet.

    June 25, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Lisa B

    This is money wasted. These millions could be used for more important things than running ads, when noone has a clue as to how they can change healthcare. Get an idea, than run an ad explaining. This tit for tat stuff just ain't cutting it.

    June 25, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. Sniffit


    That's approximately 550 cancer patients treated.

    June 25, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. malclave

    Eh, what's $20 or $30 million to the government? They'll just print more money.

    What's important is shutting down any private industry they can. Now THAT'S Change We Can Believe In!

    Who is John Galt?

    June 25, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. Howard

    instead of 30 second sound bites, Could we get someone (from either side) to actually present some facts?

    June 25, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Oh, and hey morons...it's $22M TOTAL...not just by the pro-health care reform people...it includes the money spent by people fighting it. read the article before you attribute the whole thing to Obama or you're just being stupid.

    June 25, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. TCM

    @ FRANK –

    You're right; except not all of us hired him. He's a disgrace to this nation, and it's being revealed more and more; daily, that he's totally incapable of handling the job. He's propped up by a crew of puppeteers and corrupt demoliberals from the Party of D'oh!

    June 25, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. Chuck

    Why don't we look at the Great Britain and Canada and see how well their health care system works. It DOESN'T!!! Wake up people. I guess that's why Europe is moving away from socialism. Just look at the last election results from over their. All of the left wing wackos got voted out.

    June 25, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. seebofubar

    When insurance companies make money, they invest in other companies and increase their companies payroll. Both of which are VERY GOOD for our economy. Government healthcare does neither. What it does do is to increase the tax burden on the people in this country who are responsible for creating jobs, business owners.
    The addition of a government healthcare program will cause serious job loss in the private sector, insurance companies will loose clients and will be forced to reduce their workforce. Healthcare does need to be reformed but government healthcare will be a disaster just as it is in other countries. Tort reform and stop insuring illegal immigrants would be a good start.

    June 25, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  23. Expat American

    susie June 25th, 2009 4:21 pm ET
    They should pool the money together in put it an a health care savings for the illegal immigrants.
    Don't forget to put some $$ aside for poor Republicans...you know the ones who can't claim that because of 'socialism' they suddenly somehow have to support Democrats or Liberals.

    June 25, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  24. Chris

    If they'd just put that money into helping sick people...

    June 25, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  25. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Obama then: I will reach across the aisle by magic and hearts and flowers and be a transparent friend to all

    Umbama now: I will get my minions and corporate fat cat friends to donate and create ad campaigns – money will win

    Messiah meets with Reality.

    June 25, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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