“I don’t know what else to say other than Obamacare is … going to remain the law of the land.” So spoke Speaker Paul Ryan after he pulled the bill to repeal Obamacare because there was insufficient support from his party to pass the bill. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” he said. Yet, hours after Ryan’s announcement, some television ads seemed to be responding to “alternate facts”: Viewers were invited to call their member of Congress to thank them for repealing Obamacare.
An ad during the Wizards-Nets NBA game asked viewers to thank Barbara Comstock of Virginia for replacing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Before CBS’s coverage of March Madness (collegiate basketball tournament), viewers in Fresno, California were asked to call David Valadao for the same purpose, and viewers in Des Moines, Iowa were asked to call David Young and do the same. In San Antonia, Texas, a similar ad was aired asking viewers to call Will Hurd and offer thanks for repeal of Obamacare. An ad in San Diego, California, asked viewers to thank Darrell Issa “for keeping his promise and replacing the Affordable Care Act with a better health care you deserve.”
At least two of the legislators to be thanked in the ads opposed the Republican health care bill. Comstock said she could not support the bill because the final version had removed basic benefits such as maternity care and mental health services. Hurd said the final form of the bill “created new challenges.”
The ads were purchased by the American Action Network (AAN), which is described as a conservative-leaning group. Since Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, repeal of Obamacare seemed assured. After the Republicans’ health care bill was withdrawn, the AAN apparently did not move quickly enough to remove the ads.
In a statement, the AAN said the ads had been running for two weeks as part of an ongoing effort to urge the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Therefore, the claims in the ad remain true despite the abandonment of the Republicans’ health care bill.