November 6th, 2009
07:20 PM ET
11 years ago

First on the Ticker: Health reform critics saturate TV airwaves

Washington (CNN) – Opponents of President Obama’s approach to health care reform have outspent supporters by more than $7 million in the past 30 days in what has become the most expensive one year, single issue advocacy campaign on television in the nation’s history.

So far, more than $151 million has been spent in 2009 on TV ads by organizations promoting, opposing or simply weighing in on the health care debate, according to an exclusive analysis conducted for CNN by TNSMI-Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).

Supporters of Obama’s approach to health care reform began airing TV commercials earlier in the year than opponents and account for $61 million, while opponents have spent $52.3 million and groups with an interest in the debate but not advocating a position have dedicated $38 million.

In the past 30 days, supporters of Obama's approach to health care reform spent nearly $12 million on TV ads while opponents countered with $19.1 million.

“We are starting to see a separation in the messaging,” said Evan Tracey, president of CMAG and CNN’s consultant on political television advertising. “Groups that are opposed to President Obama’s health care plan are starting to turn up the volume in key states to put pressure on lawmakers to vote against these bills.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent a whopping $1.5 million alone to air an ad linking the depressed economy to the health care debate in cities stretching from Juneau, Alaska, to Roanoke, Virginia.

“This advertising is turning very gray in terms of the senior voters they are targeting and the mood of the electorate who are pessimistic about the economy,” said Tracey.

Americans for Stable Quality Care, a coalition of health care interest and liberal advocacy groups, spent more than $8.2 million over the past month on commercials to lead the spending in support of Obama’s approach to reform. The Chamber spent $9.7 million on TV ads, while America’s Health Insurance Plans, an association of insurers, dedicated $5.5 million to commercials during this same 30 day time period.

The House is meeting for a rare weekend session as the Democratic majority tries to pass a health care bill.

“The Chamber ad combined with a lot of weekend news coverage of the new unemployment numbers is going to be a potential one-two punch as House Democrats try to pass a health care reform bill,” Tracey said.

Tracey is referring to news Friday that the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent, the highest it has been since 1983.

Follow Mark Preston on Twitter @PrestonCNN

Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. A.B.

    Regardless of how loud the opponents of healthcare reform shout or how much money they spend, Healthcare reform is going to happen and H.R. 3200 will become law before the end of 2009. No one or group can thwart the will of the majority of Americans who want reform.

    November 6, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  2. m smith

    Better to have spent the money on health care than on opposing it. Health care for everyone now!

    November 6, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  3. will

    All I like to say about the health care bill is if any of the so-call democrats don't vote for it, the Democratic party should not give them any support during the mid term election.

    November 6, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  4. Jay T.

    These are business men. So, imagine the profits they seek to gain if health care reform does not pass. More reason to get this done.

    November 6, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  5. Mickey

    Saturate all you jus' ain't gonna work.

    GOP: Evolve or die

    November 6, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    Shocking that interest groups that make money with the current setup are spending money on commercials to kill the bill. They are hoping that republicans and some independents will vote against their economic interests.

    November 6, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  7. Don Greegory

    These organizations realize the tried and true business maxim:

    You gotta spend money to make money ! ! !

    They're definitely willing to pour from their deep fat pockets to kill the bill! ! ! ! They're hoped-for results; deeper fatter pockets! ! !

    November 6, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  8. Jane

    I find it funny that people think the endorsement of AARP is a great thing. AARP is an insurance company that woos people over 50 and always will be. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck.......
    The AMA supporting the dems healthcare plan is a joke as well approx 25% of doctor's belong. The AMA is actually a lobby group that masks itself as an "organization". Not a true representation of American docotrs

    November 6, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  9. Matt


    More people need to be informed on how bad this bill is. The government needs to stay out of healthcare until they come up with solutions to the other UNSUSTAINABLE government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, VA hospitals, Social Security,....).

    The public option costs too much and does too little.

    November 6, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  10. James In Atlanta

    Incumbents beware; We the People of The United States of America put you in office to represent us. Majority rules and any of you can be voted out of office and replaced with someone who will represent us and do our bidding.

    Health care providers like doctors and nurses and the institutions they work for provide health care. Health Insurance companies are a parasite on the US Health Care System extorting vast sums of monies from sick and injured Americans to fill their coffers. We need to let the market place rule and provide a strong public option insurance program ran by the people for the people not for profit and greed and to cover operating costs only.

    A publically ran insurance program for Americans who choose to participate and Americans who can not afford health care and not forcing Americans to purchase high cost private health insurance with tax dollars. A strong public option will provided needed jobs and remove the fear of Americans going bankrupt to pay for an illness or injury or being dropped from coverage or priced out with ever increasing premium and deductable costs.

    November 6, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. cutthebull

    I love this.. Republicans talk about spending less and being Patriotic Americans but they want to deprive Americans of health care reform with millions upon millions of dollars worth of advertising on TV attacking any kind of reform... How about spending millions of dollars on helping Americans and not wasting it on obstructionism. If thats too big of a word for some of you GOOGLE it.

    November 6, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  12. tom

    Almost everyone is for health care reform, but not for the ridiculous mess the dems are promoting. If this was really about improving health care in an intelligent common sense manner the bill would already be law. Instead they have crafted a partisan, special interest disaster that will diminish quality of care across the board, severly increase the deficit, and result in huge increases in taxes.

    November 6, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  13. JP

    Why is that every version of every bill puts the interests of the trial lawyers 1st and the citizens last. How much less would the cost of this bill be because there is no tort reform. What is the real cost of the bill to taxpayers when all the illegals are made legal under Obama's promise of "a path to citizenship." Why don't we reform the current government programs and see all those magical saving that are promised.

    November 6, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. Shelly CO

    It is our current health system that costs greatly in terms of dollars and lives.
    My parents live in Canada and I have seen first hand what a wonderful health system it worries for my retired parents.
    Are we just a bunch of sissies that we do not want to change a system that denies the most basic human rights of health and life to its citizens?
    The scary tactics by the right are disgusting and unpatriotic!!!!!

    November 6, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  15. File under "Sarcasm"

    How can this be? Just listen to Nancy and Harry; everyone wants their healthcare reform bills. How could anyone finance so much anti-healthcare bill advertising if no one is against it?

    November 6, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  16. Paul

    Funny, I'm not a religious afflitated man, spirtual, but not religious. Just think if all the so called religious righteous of just spent this money on caring for their fellow human beings as their own religious doctrines implore them to do. Such a shame and a waste. Do the right thing people, or at least have the decenency to quite hiding behind a bunch of religious dogma you only apply when it suits your fiscal needs. "Too late the prophets (profits) cried" – Crime of the Century – Supertramp

    November 6, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  17. Frustrated in Georgia

    Can I at least read it before I can comment on it? Thing about being free is that you are able to think for yourself. I want to decide for myself if this bill is good for me and my family.

    People!!! Stop listening to others such as democrats and republican. They are parties with their own agenda. Take time for yourself to think for yourself and stop letting other think for you.

    November 6, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  18. Barry

    I don't know about these ads, but I do know that if the democrats don't pass health care then they will almost certainly be in the minority for years to come.

    November 6, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  19. Scott, Tucson

    I like the part in the health care bill that says Americans would go to prison for up to five years if they don't buy into obamacare. Maybe obama and Pelosi plans on sending violators to GITMO?

    November 6, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  20. Brad

    If anyone is swayed by commercials without investigating the legislation first isn't worth any health care coverage. For some reason, it's increasingly harder for people to make informed decisions by themselves without letting them be swayed by biased news and information.

    November 6, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  21. ib

    This bill should be DOA; just look at the cuts in medicare alone. This country cannot afford this kind of spending. We are broke and headed into being a past country if Obama keeps spending the way he has been.

    November 6, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  22. Dennis in AZ

    Freedom of Speech. It's one of the few privileges Americans have left due to the spontaneous collapse of the Bill of RIGHTS and diversion from the tenets of the US Constitution. The Truth about Healthcare Reform is the Truth about America–when people put their race or their religion in front of American Values, it seems clear that we've been a bit too politically correct. When 20 hispanic congresspersons won't vote for a bill because it entitles LEGAL residents in the US to Healthcare over ILLEGAL residents of America, the system needs to break. The US Government isn't too big to fail–it's been failing for years and we've done nothing because of the "politically correct Citizens of the World" we've repeatedly elected. Profit over Representation seems the premise of most elected officials. I respect the hispanics in that AT LEAST THEY ARE REPRESENTING SOMETHING!!

    November 6, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  23. Nick

    With all these big bucks GOP'ers flooding the airway spending billions and billions to keep the rich rich and to get them richer, it becomes obvious that Health Care Reform is in the best interest of the people else the mega-rich wouldn't be fighting it so.

    November 6, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  24. T'SAH from Virginia

    DANG!! The money being spent for ads to APPROVE and/or DISAPPROVE the Health Care Bill – if added together – could create a few jobs or give out some loans to small businesses!!

    November 6, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  25. fight the lies

    Wake up Dems! Fight to get the truth out. The misleading lies and fear-mongering of the GOP is overwhelming the public.

    Let Americans know the truth. Insurance companies have long profited off the American tax payer and the GOP is in the insurance lobby pockets.

    Fight back. You look wimpy. Fight the lies with truth. Call them on the fear-mongering. You have to do this for the American people. Fight!

    November 6, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
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