Conservative anti-reform front group Americans for Prosperity has been running vicious attack ads in Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper’s (D-PA) district, claiming that health care reform will lead to lower cancer survival rates. The ad — also running in 17 other key districts through tomorrow — features a breast cancer survivor named Tracy Walsh who claims, “If government takes over health care,” rationing recommendations by “a government panel” “could cost your life.” She adds that if she had followed a panel’s advice on mammograms, “my cancer would have spread undetected, and my chances of survival would have been reduced.”
The Dahlkemper ad has been taken off AFP’s YouTube channel, but this is a duplicate ad going after Chris Carney. Watch it:
Running the ad in Dahlkemper’s district is extremely insensitive considering both of her parents died from cancer within the past month. Dahlkemper released a blistering statement condemning AFP for the “false, tasteless, and shameful” ad:
“These attacks from a Washington-based front group are false, tasteless, and shameful,” said Congresswoman Dahlkemper. “In the past month, I’ve lost both my parents to cancer. It’s truly disgraceful for outside groups to then attack me for not being tough enough on cancer.”
“Like millions of Americans, my family and I have lost loved ones to this horrible disease. This is personal for me; I’ve been a strong proponent of the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and the work they are doing to find a cure, and I’ve encouraged more cancer screenings, particularly for women. My record and dedication are clear.”
Despite this, AFP is refusing to pull the ad. “Obviously we’re very, very sorry for her personal tragedies, but it doesn’t change the broad implication for the American people of the health care bill,” AFP spokeswoman Amy Payne said. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that the ad was pulled from AFP’s YouTube channel, and that a “Friday news release has also been scrubbed,” but Payne “denied” that.
The ad’s claims are flat out wrong. PolitiFact rated it “Pants On Fire” — a category reserved for only the most false and misleading statements — writing, “In short, this is a bogus issue.” “Nothing in the health care bill would change how [Walsh] (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,” Politifact notes.