By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
CONCORD – The national conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity continued its heavy spending on television advertising in New Hampshire Wednesday with a new ad critical of Rep. Anne Kuster for her support of the Affordable Care Act.
It’s the third AFP ad this year focusing on Kuster and the sixth overall against Kuster, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, all of whom are strong supporters of the ACA.
The new ad pushes AFP’s total ad spending on radio, television and online ads in New Hampshire so far this cycle to more than $3 million.
“Tell Congresswoman Kuster Obamacare isn’t working and our patience is gone,” says a narrator in the latest ad, which is set to air for three weeks on broadcast and cable television at a cost of $660,000.
It focuses on the narrow network in New Hampshire, brought about by having, at least until next year, only one provider under the Obamacare marketplace.
The ad comes a week after the Obama administration announced that there have been 40,000 signups for the ACA in the Granite State, which the administration says is double the original target figure through April.
Still, said Greg Moore, AFP-New Hampshire’s state director, the figure does not account for the effects of the narrow network, which, the ad says, has forced many to find new doctors and hospitals and drive much longer distances than in the past to get medical care.
“The narrow network issue is particularly acute in New Hampshire, with only one insurer,” said Moore. “Through the exchange, options are taken away from you.”
Today, the state Insurance Department is holding a hearing on the adequacy of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Sheild’s narrow network of hospitals. Ten of the state’s 36 hospitals are on the network.
Rochester resident Margaret McCarthy has complained that she has been aggrieved by the exclusion of Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester from the network for its plans sold through the marketplace.
Frisbie Memorial Hospital is in the state’s 1st Congressional District, represented by Shea-Porter; Kuster represents the 2nd District.
Moore said the new ad brings total ad spending focusing on Kuster to $1.5 million. He said $1.2 million has been spent on ads focusing on Shaheen and about $250,000 on Shea-Porter. Online ads focusing on all three have cost AFP about $250,000.
The AFP ads began airing shortly after the holidays and have continued through the first four-plus months of the year.
According to AFP-NH, the ad “highlights the lacks of choice for individuals buying insurance through the exchange, where Anthem has a monopoly on coverage, as well as the narrow network that have eliminated 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals, as well as the doctors from those hospitals, from the provider network.”
“Congresswoman Kuster’s unwavering support for ObamaCare is part of the reason that New Hampshire citizens have lost access to their local doctors and hospitals,” said Moore in a statement. “Now, many of her constituents in places like Nashua, Concord, Peterborough, Claremont and Colebrook have to drive past the hospital near them to travel to another facility thanks to the bureaucratic nightmare that is ObamaCare.”
Spokesmen for the Kuster campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not respond to NH Journal’s requests for comment on the new ad, the overall AFP spending in New Hampshire and the AFP-NH statement.
But late Wednesday, the Kuster campaign sent a fund-raising email to supporters hitting back at the latest ad.
“We just found out Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers shady Super PAC, went up today with a new $500,000 barrage of television ads attacking Annie,” wrote Kuster campaign manager Patrick Devney.
“They’ve spent over ONE MILLION dollars attacking us this year and we know they’re not going to stop. The Koch Brothers think they can buy this election for their right-wing, Tea Party candidates. With your support we can send a clear message: New Hampshire is not for sale,” Devney wrote.
The ad is the sixth by AFP focusing on Kuster, Shaheen and Shea-Porter. Three of those ads have focused on Kuster, two have focused on Shaheen and one on Shea-Porter. All have focused on their support for the ACA.
The new ad will be “supported” by online ads, AFP-NH says.
“AFP-NH is absolutely committed to holding ObamaCare responsible for the huge damage the law is causing in the lives of New Hampshire residents,” said Moore. “This law is tremendously unpopular with the public because of the negative consequences that are hammering the working families of the state. It’s time for Representative Kuster to admit that this terribly flawed law is broken and stop the harm it is doing to so many citizens.”