Activists on both sides of the “any willing provider” ballot measure that would give South Dakota patients more choice of in-network doctors say the issue is too complicated for sound bites, but have still spent more than $560,000 on television ads to sway voters ahead of election day.
Under the proposal, Initiated Measure 17, doctors who agree to conditions set by insurers can join the insurers’ preferred providers, or in-network, list. Patients are usually charged less for using preferred providers than doctors outside their network.
Opponents say the plan would increase health care costs, and have spent at least $294,000 airing 668 TV ads urging voters to oppose the measure, according to data released by the Center for Public Integrity.
Proponents have spent at least $267,000 airing 787 ads, according to the analysis.
The Center for Public Integrity reviewed data about political advertising on national cable and broadcast television in each of the country’s 210 media markets. The organization used research from Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks political advertising and offers a widely accepted estimate of the money spent to air each spot between Jan. 1, 2013, and Oct. 20, 2014.
These figures only represent part of the money spent on political advertising. They do not include the money spent on ads on radio, online and direct mail, nor do the numbers reflect ads that aired on local cable systems. The estimates also do not account for the cost of making the ads.
South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry President David Owen, who is leading efforts by business groups and large health care organizations to oppose the measure, said the campaign has raised roughly $700,000 to fight the physician-backed initiative. That funding has translated into yard signs, online banner advertisements, some print and radio spots and upcoming direct mail buys — costs not reported in the reviewed data.
“This is an enormously complicated and kind of unbelievably boring issue, which makes communicating in sound bites difficult,” Owen said.
Supporters have spent more than $500,000 attempting to sway voters to support the imitative and have invested in the same familiar campaign paraphernalia.
“It’s actually quite a bit simpler than people are trying to portray it to be,” said Dr. Stephen Eckrich, a leading supporter of the measure.
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