Sixteen Democratic congressmen, holding what could be considered highly competitive seats come the mid-term November congressional elections, are getting a big thank you from the American Hospital Association (AHA) this week for voting for healthcare reform last month.
In a million-dollar-plus campaign, AHA started airing 30-second local televisions ads on Monday for one week—while the congressmen are in their home districts during a House recess.
"These were people who had to take some tough votes in support of the bill. It involved some courage, and we want to be helpful to them for having done the right thing in voting for the bill, which we support," says Rick Pollack, AHA's executive vice president of advocacy and public policy.
While it is not the first time AHA has aired ads in support of a congressional representative, it's the first time an advertisement has been used to express thanks, Pollack says.
"[This] is a different kind of ad, and it is unusual. Certainly, given the magnitude and the scope of the legislation and the historic nature of it, we thought it was something [where] we could be helpful."
The ads show parents, children, seniors, physicians, and business owners in everyday situations. Some of them are writing and typing notes to members of Congress to thank them for their votes. The ads thank the House members by name in a voice-over for "giving Americans access to quality health coverage."
"We felt real strongly about the need to significantly expand coverage and that was one of the primary outcomes of this legislation," Pollack says. "For those that find themselves taking a tough vote because of opposition back home, we want to let them know that we are behind them and we think this is a good thing for not only hospitals, but the patients and communities that we serve."
The AHA joins other groups, such as the Service Employees International Union (EUIU), that ran a $700,000 TV ad campaign in late March in selected congressmen's home districts to thank them for their votes for healthcare reform.
The 30 second television ads thank the following House members: John Boccieri (D OH), Leonard Boswell (D IA), F. Allen Boyd (D FL), Christopher Carney (D PA), Kathy Dahlkemper (D PA), Gabrielle Giffords (D AZ), Baron Hill (D IN), Suzanne Kosmas (D FL), Scott Murphy (D NY), Bill Owens (D NY), Tom Perriello (D VA), Gary Peters (D MI), Earl Pomeroy (D ND), Ciro Rodriguez (D TX), Mark Schauer (D MI), and John Spratt (D SC).