Watch out for misleading ads from ‘Doctor Patient Unity’

Published 3:27 pm Monday, August 19, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

Kentucky’s two senators are among around a dozen targeted nationwide by a shadowy group using every trick in the book to conceal who they are and what their real motives are.

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If you’ve watched broadcast TV in Kentucky in recent weeks, you’ve probably seen the stoic woman warning you that legislation being considered right now could lead to doctor shortages and more expensive health care. But while the actor in the ads has plenty of confidence in what she’s saying, no one has any confidence in saying exactly who is running the ads.

What is clear, thanks to recent digging and analysis by, is that the secretive “Doctor Patient Unity” group is using dark money, obscuring its funders and playing tricks to avoid accountability in the run-up to the 2020 election. And it’s doing it all in service of one side in a political battle between doctors and insurance companies over whether patients should get stuck with “surprise medical bills” — massive bills for emergency-room or ambulance service that you can receive unexpectedly when the health care provider happens to be “out of network” with your insurance provider.

Senators are currently considering the Lower Health Care Costs Act, which is the target of the secretive $2.3 million ad campaign from Doctor Patient Unity. As explained, “The legislation would set the rates at which insurers would reimburse providers for out-of-network emergency care, a proposal widely opposed by hospital and physician groups.”

We’re not here to take a side in whether insurance companies or doctors should get more money. Both sides are lobbying on this issue so hard we doubt if anything positive for patients will actually come out of it one way or another. What we care about is government corrupted by hidden forces who aren’t held accountable publicly.

Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul are targeted in the ads being run in Kentucky. The ad dodges some campaign accountability rules by not explicitly advocating for or against either senator, instead pushing for viewers to contact the senators and tell them to oppose the legislation. And it takes plenty of liberties in describing the legislation and what it intends to accomplish.

An average viewer who doesn’t do any further digging is left believing McConnell and Paul are setting out to bankrupt their constituents and give them worse health care at the same time. That’s simply not true.

Whatever your feelings about either of our senators, they deserve to be criticized or commended for what they actually do and say. And the people doing the criticizing or commending ought to have faces and names.

Doctor Patient Unity is a group of cowards working in the shadows to make things better for themselves regardless of how harmful it is to the health of our democracy. We ought to have stronger rules prohibiting such behavior and forcing those who wish to have political influence to do so in the daylight.