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Truth Test: TV ad questions health care 'government rate setting'

Updated: August 09, 2019 05:41 PM

It's not quite election season yet, but a TV advertisement saturating Twin Cities television airwaves certainly makes it seem like an election is around the corner.

"A surprise medical bill can be traumatic especially after a trip to the emergency room," an earnest-looking blonde woman says into the camera in the ad. "But now the big insurance companies want to make things even harder on us with a scheme called government rate-setting."

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The ad refers to a bill in the U.S. Senate aimed at lowering health care costs by setting rates at which insurers would reimburse health care providers for emergency care, including emergency room visits and ambulance rides. The health industry even supports the bipartisan bill, which would restrict how much hospitals could charge for "unexpected" medical bills like emergency room visits and ambulance rides.

The ad by a group called "Doctor Patient Unity" predicts dire consequences.

KSTP Truth Test

"Doctor shortages, hospital closures. Rate setting would only serve insurance companies who are already making record profits and hurt those who really matter. Patients. Us."

The claim is likely misleading, and at best, uncertain. Insurance companies might have to pay less, but hospitals also make billions in profits every year.

We don't know much about the group paying for the ad. The watchdog website "Opensecrets.org" calls it a "secretive front group" that has already spent $2.3 million targeting senators in 11 states, including Minnesota Senator Tina Smith. She serves on a Senate committee considering the bill.

The group doesn't reveal who its donors are, but it's likely health care and physician groups that fear the loss of significant revenue.

Because this ad includes a mix of true and misleading statements that offer very little context, it gets a "C" on the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS "Truth Test."

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Credits

Tom Hauser

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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