Americans For Prosperity: “We Must Replace President Obama”

In an ad deceptively likening health care reform in the U.S. to the Canadian single-payer system, Americans for Prosperity deploys a Canadian woman who sought care for a brain condition in the U.S., claiming that she would have died before she was able to get in to see the necessary specialists in Canada. The comparison is false, however, since health care in the U.S. continues to be based in the private sector.

The Affordable Care Act Is Not Changing U.S. Health Care Into A System Like Canada’s

CBS News: “False” That Health Care Reform Makes The U.S. System Like Canada’s. From CBS News: “The ad pushes the false assertion that the U.S. health care law is government-run like Canada’s. In fact, the U.S. law is insurance-based and runs through the private market, while Canada’s is a public system largely run and administered by the government.” [CBS News, 9/4/12]

ACA “Doesn’t Come Close To Establishing A Government-Run System Like Those Of Britain Or Canada.” From “The new law does expand existing programs, and it establishes new subsidies and imposes additional regulation of health insurance companies. But it doesn’t come close to establishing a government-run system like those of Britain or Canada. Many liberals were in fact disappointed when the law failed to include a government-run “public option” to private health insurance.” [, 11/21/11]

Doctors Have Questioned The Woman’s Story

AFP Featured Holmes In An Anti-Health Care Reform Ad Campaign In 2009. From Canada’s CBC News: “The advertisement warns that Washington wants to bring in Canadian-style health care that would cause ‘deadly’ delays for people waiting for important medical procedures. ‘I am a Canadian citizen, and as my brain tumour [sic] got worse, my government health-care system told me I had to wait six months to see a specialist,’ Holmes says in the commercial. ‘In six months I would have died.’ The sponsor of the ad, Patients United Now, is an offshoot of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a privately funded, Washington-based conservative group that believes in limited government and cutting taxes.” [, 7/21/09]

Holmes’ Story Has Grown More Dramatic Over Time. In the ad, Holmes states, “I had lost three-quarters of my vision in my right eye and half of my vision in my left eye.” The Mayo Clinic’s 2007 write-up of Holmes’ case stated, “When she first saw Dr. Patel, Holmes had lost half the vision in her right eye and 25 percent in her left eye. After the surgery, her vision was 100 percent restored.” [ via, Summer 2007]

Holmes’ Condition Was A Benign Cyst, Not A Tumor. From “The paper reported that Holmes said that Rathke’s cleft cyst was ‘still considered a tumour, which her American doctors told her would certainly cause death if not removed immediately.’ Dr. Jason Huse, a pathologist at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, told us something different. ‘By strict definitions it’s not even a tumor,’ he said, but a remnant of embryological structures that eventually develop into the pituitary gland. Huse stressed that without having examined Holmes, he couldn’t know the prognosis of her RCC: ‘It is not out of the realm of possibility,’ he told us, ‘that this could have been impeding her hormone secretions to the extent that it was a life-threatening situation.’ And of course, we don’t know what Holmes’ American doctors told her. However, Huse said, RCC ‘is not typically a malignant lesion and it is not typically life-threatening.” [, 8/9/09]

Holmes’ Condition “Not Known to Be Fatal.” From Bloomberg: “It is an ‘exaggeration’ to say Holmes would have died from her condition, a top Canadian neurosurgeon said in a July 31, 2009, report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Holmes was diagnosed with Rathke’s cleft cyst, a benign, slow- growing tumor that’s not known to be fatal.” [, 9/3/12]

Canadian Neurosurgeon: Never Seen Or Heard Of A Death From Rathke’s Cyst. From the Canadian Broadcasting Company: “After trying unsuccessfully to expedite the process, she was diagnosed and treated at the Mayo Clinic. Holmes said U.S. doctors considered the cyst a tumour, and that it would cause death if not removed immediately. But neurosurgeon Michael Schwartz of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital says he’s never seen or heard of a death from a Rathke’s cyst. He told CBC News symptoms can be alleviated if the cyst is drained or part of it removed to take pressure off the optic nerve. ‘Then the person’s vision almost always improves. If somebody called me about a patient that was losing her vision or had a structural abnormality of the brain I would see them within days.’” [, 7/31/09]

[ON-SCREEN TEXT:] Shona Holmes’ Story [HOLMES:] I started losing my vision. I had lost three-quarters of my vision in my right eye and half of my vision in my left eye. [ON-SCREEN TEXT:] Shona Holmes is a Canadian. [HOLMES:] And in order to see the specialists that were required it was going to be four months for one and six months for another. [ON-SCREEN TEXT:] But Canada’s government-run health care system was failing her. [HOLMES:] And I knew there was no way we could wait for those appointments. [ON-SCREEN TEXT:] Shona sought care in the United States where she was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain condition. [HOLMES:] I started the quest to getting treatment in the U.S. The doctors agreed that they would do anything that they could in order to get me in for treatment back at home in Canada. [ON-SCREEN TEXT:] But Shona could not wait for care in Canada. [HOLMES:] My husband spoke up and says, “We have an appointment in September.” And the doctor put down his pen and he said, “Your wife will be dead by September. [ON-SCREEN TEXT:] To save her life, Shona chose surgery in the U.S. [HOLMES:] I knew then that the system had become far more dangerous for patients than I had ever realized. [ON-SCREEN TEXT:] But under President Obama, America’s health care is becoming more like the Canadian system that failed Shona. [HOLMES:] The American system was there for me when I needed it, and it’s time for Americans to get engaged in this debate. [NARRATOR:] To protect America’s patient-centered care, we must replace President Obama. Americans for Prosperity is responsible for the content of this advertising. [Americans for Prosperity via, 9/3/12]