TRUTH TEST: TV Ad Targeting Johnson on Health Care Misses Mark

October 17, 2018 11:05 AM

Several television ads have been on the air this election cycle attacking Republican candidate Jeff Johnson about health care, including a new one from a political action committee that supports Democrat Tim Walz. However, the ad includes false, inconclusive and dated claims that bring it close to failing the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS "Truth Test."

"The list of pre-existing conditions seems endless," the narrator on the ad from the Minnesota Victory Fund PAC says. "Cancer, diabetes, asthma - even pregnancy. Under Jeff Johnson's health care plan, insurance companies could deny coverage for every single one."


The ad cites Johnson's own website for that information. However, his website says just the opposite. In his "action plan" for health care, Johnson calls for "a new approach that drives down costs and still takes care of our most vulnerable Minnesotans and those with pre-existing conditions."

His plan calls for returning Minnesota to a "high-risk" insurance pool it used to have that was eliminated by the Affordable Care Act. His website says: "I will advocate for reinstating a MCHA-style pool for those with pre-existing conditions, guaranteeing competitively-priced coverage for everyone in Minnesotan."

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"Over 300,000 Minnesotans left without the care they need," the ad warns. "Johnson's plan would raise rates and drive up the cost of prescription drugs while insurance companies continue to make millions in profits."

Oddly, the ad cites a StarTribune newspaper article from Aug. 1, 2014. We couldn't find an article about Johnson and health on that date, but we did find one on Aug. 3, 2014.

In that article, Johnson is quoted as saying he wants to get a "waiver" from the federal government exempting Minnesota from "many coverage mandates" under "Obamacare," officially known as the Affordable Care Act. He goes on to say he would keep the MNsure health insurance exchange, but allow the "private market to compete in MNsure" to help bring costs down. It's conjecture to say 300,000 people would lose coverage and costs would rise dramatically.

This ad includes a mix of false, inconclusive and dated information, some of which is based on information from when Johnson ran for governor in 2014.  It gets a D-minus on the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS "Truth Test."

How KSTP Grades Political Ads in Truth Test

At the end of every "Truth Test," 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and 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.


Tom Hauser

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


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