As Medicare for All continues to dominate much of the 2020 Democratic primary discussion, two progressive groups are unveiling a joint advertising blitz linking personal stories to the universal health care proposal heading into Super Tuesday next week.
Be A Hero PAC, the group started by activist Ady Barkan, who is fighting ALS, and National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in the country, are spending $500,000 across nine states voting on March 3, with an emphasis on California, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, according to details of the ad campaign first shared with The Daily Beast.
“Medicare for All is not a partisan issue; it’s a matter of life or death for our patients, and we hope these stories really underscore the importance of guaranteed health care as a human right,” said Bonnie Castillo, the executive director of National Nurses United.
Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders has vaulted to the top of the primary field in part because of his fierce advocacy for Medicare for All. More moderate rivals like Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bloomberg, Joe Biden, and Pete Buttigieg have argued Americans should be allowed to keep private health plans.
The new ads don’t endorse any candidate, but they make clear which side of that debate they come down on.
One spot features the story of a mother named Amanda Sturgill struggling to pay medical bills for her daughter’s surgery to address severe back pain. She describes being unable to afford thousands of dollars in costs that weren’t covered by her company’s insurance plan, and then being sued by the hospital.
“Do I pay the hospital bill or feed my four kids?” Sturgill asks in a narrated clip. “I paid what I could, and then one day, a sheriff showed up with a court summons.”
In another spot, a man named Matt Mellott says that due to complications from diabetes, he had to undergo a partial foot amputation. “I couldn’t afford insulin,” he says, sharing how he struggled to keep up with medical bills after transitioning off his mother’s health plan. “In 2002, I nearly died because I was rationing my insulin.”
Liz Jaff, president of Be A Hero PAC, said she hopes the ads offer a fresh perspective in the face of industry-friendly talking points. “We’re never going to be able to go dollar for dollar against the likes of [industry group] the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, but we want to make sure voters heading to the polls on a day that could decide who our nominee is, see some sort of counter-balance,” Jaff said.
A Democratic strategist involved in the joint group launch said the four ads—which will run on Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, and ConnectedTV—are intended to mobilize existing Medicare for All supporters. But they’re also meant to convince people on the fence that the progressive health care policy is the best option heading into delegate-rich Super Tuesday, when voters in states making up 40 percent of the country’s population head to the polls.