Obamacare opponents launch Montana ad campaign

2014-01-15T18:30:00Z 2014-01-17T13:59:08Z Obamacare opponents launch Montana ad campaignBy TOM LUTEY tlutey@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Americans for Prosperity, the conservative social welfare group that blanketed Montana with mailers and bus tours during the 2012 election, launched a new TV ad blitz on Wednesday targeting Obamacare.

The ad, thanking Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., for voting against the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, comes a day after similar issue ads were rolled out in Michigan and Ohio.

All three states have 2014 elections that could determine which political party controls the U.S. Senate in 2015.

Daines is campaigning to replace Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, an Affordable Care Act author who isn’t seeking re-election.

Since August, AFP has spent $22 million on ads targeting the Affordable Care Act. The Montana TV ad, which will run three weeks, cost $400,000 and is expected to be viewed 12 to 18 times by state viewers.

“The Republican conservative base dislikes this law,” said Tim Phillips, AFP president. “So, the goal is to try to reach folks in the middle. And frankly, that audience skews female and it skews younger.”

Women are most often responsible for household health care decisions, both for children and increasingly for aging parents, Phillips said.

Healthy, young adults are least likely to use health insurance, but are now required to sign up under the Affordable Care Act.

“The message to them is really simple, Obamacare wants to pay for the bureaucracy it’s created and for the adverse impacts it’s created for many Americans by taking a whole lot of money from people who are relatively healthy and aged 20 to 35,” Phillips said.

Health care enrollment began in October, but has been mired in dysfunction. Online registration proved nearly impossible for the first two months of the rollout.

Some Americans under the impression that their insurance policies wouldn’t change after Obamacare began soon realized policies are changing and in some cases being entirely eliminated.

President Barack Obama told Americans, “You like your plan? You’ll be keeping your plan. No one is taking that away from you.” That assurance was made March 25, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa.

Daines received high marks from Americans For Prosperity for opposing Obamacare. AFP also praises Montana Republicans in the 2013 Legislature for thwarting attempts to make Medicaid available to 70,000 uninsured Montanans with annual incomes within 138 percent of poverty level, which is $30,809 for a family of four, $15,400 for an individual.

Joe Balyeat, director of Americans For Prosperity Montana, said Montana was the only state with a Democratic governor that chose not to expand Medicaid, which was a major component of the Affordable Care Act.

An accountant, Balyeat will soon begin meeting with college students on Montana campuses to talk about what the Affordable Care Act means to young people.

Backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, Americans For Prosperity has been an outspoken participant in national and Montana opposition to public health care reform and the restrictions on pollution from carbon-based fuels.

AFP’s Montana involvement began in 2009 when it toured the state speaking out against federal pay-to-pollute cap and trade plans.

So-called cap and trade laws limit the amount of carbon dioxide polluters can produce and then allow facilities operating beneath the cap to sell their leftover emissions allowance to over-polluters. Those that can’t trade their way out of caps were to be taxed for pollution excesses.

In 2009, Congress seemed close to enacting cap and trade laws, which AFP argued was a job-killing decision. Both Obama and Republican John McCain campaigned on cap and trade during the 2008 presidential election. But conservative groups derailed those plans.

Phillips said it’s an AFP sign of progress that cap-and-trade is no longer being discussed, something he didn’t expect in 2009.

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