You would think there was an election coming, judging by the way political ads are starting to air.
But this is no election. The big political story is the rollout of Obamacare. In the last few days, we've seen a point-counterpoint between the pro-Obama Organizing for Action's ad and one from the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity.
Both ads feature a mother talking about treatment for a young child's devastating illness. The pro-Obamacare ad is a relatively straightforward -- and accurate -- discussion of the elimination of lifetime caps on coverage.
But the AFP ad raises some questions:
In the ad, "Julie," identified as a "mother of two," says her young son began having seizures two years ago and his medical care "meant the world to me." Then she goes on to say she has questions about Obamacare: "If we can't pick our own doctor, how do I know my family is going to get the care they need? And what am I getting in exchange for higher premiums and a smaller paycheck?"
Although the ad does not explicitly say so, it certainly seems that Julie already has insurance. Yet, little is expected to change for the 80-plus percent of Americans who already have insurance on the Jan. 1, 2014, rollout of the Affordable Care Act -- whether their insurance is employer-based, Medicare or Medicaid.
Dana Howard, spokesman for Covered California, sounded decidedly displeased when I talked to him about the ad Tuesday afternoon. "Covered California is not going to affect rates of insurance through (an) employer," or have any effects on choice of providers, he said. He stressed that "80 percent of physicians in California will be within a network" offered by Covered California.
"I'm sorry if I sound a bit strident," he added, "but the Affordable Care Act and Covered California have been dealing with misinformation. ... I implore people to take a look at our website, look at our plans and look at the cost."
He readily pointed out that some people with higher income -- above $100,000 -- who buy their own insurance on the individual market may see their premiums go up, but for most people, premiums are "likely going to go down ... and women with children, who are low income, definitely will not" be paying more, he said.
While Cover Oregon unveiled its quirky ads over the weekend, Covered California's own TV ads won't come out until late August or early September, Howard said, adding that the agency needs to be "prudent about funds we have available." Enrollment in the marketplace starts Oct. 1.
The Washington Post's Fact Checker gave the AFP ad "Two Pinocchios," meaning it had "(s)ignificant omissions and/or exaggerations."