Screenshot of ad

Democrats hit Kemp in new ad for saying little about health care

State Democrats are ramping up their attacks on Brian Kemp over health care with a new ad, saying the GOP nominee for governor has failed to present a detailed plan to address the issue critical to millions of Georgians.

The ad keys off a recent television news report, saying the “issue” page on Kemp’s campaign website devotes only seven words to health care. It is funded by the Democratic Party of Georgia and was made public Tuesday.

Georgia is one of 17 states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Health Care Act. Kemp’s Democratic rival, Stacey Abrams, is vowing to reverse that.

The plot

The ad opens with the narrator saying: “Seven. That’s how many words are devoted to health care on millionaire Brian Kemp’s website.”

It goes on to pose thisquestion: “So what does Brian Kemp’s website not say?”

It then states that Kemp opposes Medicaid expansion but has allowed insurance companies to deny care for pre-existing conditions, with the results being closed rural hospitals and uninsured children and veterans.

“Good for insurance companies and politicians like Brian Kemp. Bad for Georgians,” the ad concludes.

The context

Medicaid expansion, which current Gov. Nathan Deal opposed, has increasingly become a hot topic in what could be a neck-and-neck race between Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, and Abrams, the former Democratic leader in the Georgia House and the first African-American woman to seek the job. In January, a poll showed 73 percent of Georgians support expanding Medicaid — including 51 percent of Republicans.

So what about the seven-word claim? The issues page of Kemp’s website gives a brief synopsis of his stance on a couple of dozen major issues. It references health care twice and in seven words — once on the topic of improving access to health care and again lowering health care costs.

But the page also doesn’t include details on other topics, such as promoting economic development and investment or protecting Georgians by crushing street gangs.

The ad identifies as the basis of its claim an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showing some of Georgia’s worst health care metrics. At least seven rural hospitals have closed since 2010. Nine Georgia counties have no doctor. Only Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi and the District of Columbia have worse rates of infant mortality.

The story states that Kemp makes a point of telling rural Georgians he will work with the private sector to use “incentives” and the internet to improve access to care. Just not Medicaid expansion, the article states.

It quotes Ryan Mahoney, a Kemp spokesman, as saying: “Medicaid costs too much and fails to deliver for hardworking Georgians. Taking money away from public safety and education to expand a failed government program will only make things worse.”

The ad also cites an AJC article from last week discussing the Democrats’ plan to target Kemp over his support in 2005 for Senate Bill 174, a measure that would have eliminated some of the conditions that insurance companies are required to cover in Georgia. The bill’s supporters said at the time said it wouldn’t affect the broad majority of Georgians and would make it easier for small businesses to offer scaled-down plans to more employees. It passed the chamber despite objections from bipartisan critics who said it would make optional some coverage, such as mastectomy treatment and women’s contraceptives.

The response

Mahoney said of the ad: “Instead of explaining why she walked on a vote to crack down on sex trafficking and rejected a ban on sex offenders taking photos of minors, Stacey Abrams decided to lie about Brian Kemp’s record and his plan to lower insurance premiums and prescription drug costs for hardworking Georgians.”

He said Kemp “will cover Georgians will pre-existing conditions while expanding access to affordable, quality care.”

“Stacey Abrams supports government-run health care that will triple our taxes, worsen the doctor shortage and ultimately bankrupt our state,” Mahoney said.

Watch the ad

See other ads from Kemp-Abrams race.

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