How we make the call
Truth Squad assigns five ratings to the political statements we review, in descending levels of accuracy:
|Who:||Americans For Prosperity|
|What:||TV ad “Tell Gary Peters To Speak For Us”|
Relevant text of the ad
“Are you one of the 225,000 Michiganders? That's how many plans could be canceled because of Obamacare. Can you really afford to pay thousands more? Your health plan canceled, your doctor lost, all because congressman Gary Peters said yes to Obamacare. Now Peters has no regrets. He'd do it to us again. Tell congressman Peters to speak for us and stop supporting Obamacare.”
The 30-second TV ad sponsored by Americans For Prosperity continues earlier attacks against the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It also targets U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, a Democrat, who is running for U.S. Senate against Republican Terri Lynn Land, a former secretary of state. AFP is backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. It has thus far spent more than $5 million in ads attacking Peters. Peters voted for the Affordable Care Act.
Statements under review:
“Are you one of 225,000 Michiganders? That's how many plans could be canceled because of Obamacare.”
The statement refers to an Associated Press report in November that stated 225,000 state residents “could be subject to having their policies discontinued.” The calculation was attributed to the state insurance department. A week later, state officials announced that health insurers would be allowed to reinstate canceled policies. It is unknown how many residents actually had policies canceled.
For context, it is worth noting more than 272,000 Michigan residents enrolled as of March 31 in the individual marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. Nearly nine in 10 received financial assistance in the form of tax credits in buying a plan. A RAND Corporation national survey estimated that one-third of those who enrolled in the individual marketplace were previously uninsured. It calculated that 9.3 million Americans gained health insurance as of mid-March as a result of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, expansion of Medicaid authorized under the Affordable Care Act gave insurance to more than 259,000 low-income Michigan residents as of May 19.
“Can you really afford to pay thousands more? Your health plan canceled, your doctor lost, all because congressman Gary Peters said yes to Obamacare.”
While the percentage of uninsured in Michigan has clearly dropped under the Affordable Care Act, it is unclear how many residents might be paying “thousands more” in premiums because of the act. Premiums in some cases could be expected to rise because it mandates that insurance include essential health benefits, including emergency services, hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity care, mental health and substance abuse treatment and others. Policies sold in the past were less expensive because they were often marketed to healthy individuals with low projected medical costs. Policies now must be sold to anyone regardless of pre-existing condition. And insurers can no longer cap annual or lifetime cost – all of which could be expected to contribute to higher premiums for some who buy policies on the individual market but don't qualify for tax credits.
The Affordable Care Act retains the essential insurance structure that existed before. Insurance plans before often offered restricted physician and provider networks in exchange for lower premiums. That has not changed under the Affordable Care Act. Peters spokesperson Haley Morris called the add “a desperate distraction from Land's anti-middle class agenda that's out of touch and would hurt Michigan women.”
The ad offers no concrete evidence that 225,000 residents actually stood to lose policies because of the Affordable Care Act. As noted above, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services informed insurers they could reinstate policies canceled if they did not meet provisions of the act. As also noted, enrollment numbers for the individual marketplace and Medicaid expansion indicate that well over 200,000 Michigan residents have insurance now that did not have it before. The ad does not document the number of residents paying “thousands” more in premiums. Nor does it document that access to physicians is more limited under the Affordable Care Act.