TRUTH TEST: Ad Attacking Pawlenty Makes Health Care Claims

October 17, 2018 11:01 AM

A new television ad from the "Alliance for a Better Minnesota" takes aim at Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty's health care record when he previously served as governor from 2003 to 2011.

"As governor, Tim Pawlenty cut health care for seniors and children like Sheryl's son Nick," the narrator says, referring to a woman in the ad named Sheryl from Moose Lake who says her son was born with "three-fourths of a heart."

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RELATED: Tim Pawlenty Announces Campaign for Governor

The ad seems to make the case her family couldn't get needed health care because of Pawlenty's policies.


How KSTP Grades Political Ads in Truth Test

At the end of every "Truth Test," 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com assign the tested political ad a grade.

Here's the criteria we use to determine that grade:

- An "A" requires nearly complete accuracy with little exaggeration and little or no need for more context.

- A "B" requires mostly accurate information, but gets marked down for minor exaggerations and misleading information.

- A "C" can be the result of inaccurate information or exaggerated information that misleads and gives the viewer no context.

- A "D" is the result of at least half the information being false or misleading to the point of leaving a false impression.

- An "F" is the result of more than half the information being outright false as well as misleading and out of context.


However, the ad doesn't make clear what health care her family was denied because of Pawlenty.

They do cite news coverage of Pawlenty's attempts in June 2009 to "unallot" more than two-billion dollars in state spending, including $236 million in funding for health care, senior programs and other human services.

RELATED: Pawlenty Names Lt. Gov. Fischbach as Running Mate

So that claim was mostly true, though the Minnesota Supreme Court later ruled the "unallotment" plan to be illegal.

The ad also asserts that "under Pawlenty, medical costs skyrocketed." The Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM) cites a news release from "Families USA," a left-leaning health care advocacy group.

RELATED: Pawlenty's Lt. Governor Endorses Rival

However, we couldn't find it on the organization's website. ABM later informed 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that they posted the wrong date.

But the news release mostly focused on Minnesota's increase in "workplace" health insurance costs, not publicly-financed health insurance. It also did not mention Pawlenty by name.

KSTP 2018 Election Page

We deemed the claim that Pawlenty alone was responsible for "skyrocketing" medical costs to be false.

Finally, the ad claims the number of Minnesotans without health insurance went up 50 percent while Pawlenty was governor. This claim is misleading. It is true the number of uninsured went up 50 percent, from 6.1 percent to 9.1 percent, between 2002 and 2009.

KSTP's Political Brew

However, the Minnesota Department of Health study cited in an MPR report this claim is based on makes it clear the "decline in employer-based coverage was the main reason for the increase in the uninsurance rate."

This ad contains a mix of true, false and misleading claims that offer only vague context.

It gets a "C" on 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS "Truth Test."

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Tom Hauser

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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