Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize winning fact checker, says a new ad run by Americans for Prosperity rates a "Pants on Fire" designation — meaning the ad isn't true and makes a ridiculous claim.
The ad features Tracy Walsh, a South Carolina woman and breast cancer survivor. Walsh says a recommendation by an advisory panel that women do not necessarily need to have regular mammograms before age 50 could mean that under Democratic health care proposals, women such as Walsh might have died because she would not have been able to get a mammogram.
A version of the ad that encourages voters to call U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, a Lillington Democrat, is running in parts of the state.
Politifact found that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a group representing U.S. health insurers and the American Cancer Society say that mammograms for women between 40 and 50 would be covered under the new plan. The Senate bill, which is the one under consideration in the House, specifically states that the new recommendations are meaningless.
In short, this is a bogus issue. If the bill passes, preventive services recommended by the task force would become the bare minimum insurance companies in the exchange would be required to cover. And with regard to mammograms, specifically, they would be covered for women over 40.
Americans for Prosperity got the wrong messenger. With a mother who died of cancer, Walsh is practically a poster child for the kind of person who the task force believes ought to get a mammogram before 50.
And she gets her insurance through her husband's insurance. Nothing in the health care bill would change how she (or the 4 out of five Americans like her) would have received care through employer insurance. More importantly, Americans for Prosperity seized on an issue — free mammograms for women between 40 and 50 — that was
specifically taken care of with not one, but two, Senate amendments. We rule this claim Pants on Fire!
The nonpartisan Web site Factcheck.org also put the ad to the test. Likewise it found the ad was just wrong, going so far as to call some of the ad's claims "absurd."
"This ad from Americans for Prosperity caught our eye because of the
sheer number of falsehoods it hits on, both new ones and old faithfuls," Factcheck.org wrote.
UPDATE: Brad Woodhouse, the communications director for the Democratic National Committee, is calling on his brother, Dallas Woodhouse, the N.C. director of Americans for Prosperity, to pull the ad.
A previous version of this post misstated which groups are confident that mammograms will be covered.
Dallas Woodhouse said Americans for Prosperity believes the ad is accurate:
HR3590 creates over 100 new federal entities overseeing nearly all aspects of the doctor/patient relationship, including systems for developing standardized treatment recommendations based on comparative effectiveness research and incentives to pressure doctors to follow those recommendations. That vast new bureacratic overlay, combined with the individual insurance mandate to purchase a Washington-defined minimum benefits package, is in our view a Washington takeover of our health care.
While the current guidance from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force carries an exception for family history, there is ambiguity whether it would be covered in HR3590's minimum benefit package because it is rated as an "C" preventive service. Our point is that such decisions should be made by patients and doctors, not by Congress as this legislation would envision.