The Colorado Independent criticized Fox News contributor Karl Rove and his political group for twisting its reporting into a misleading attack on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.
Rove is the co-founder of Crossroads GPS, an IRS 501(c)(4) group that funds attacks against Democratic candidates across the country. The Associated Press reported on August 19 that GPS plans to spend more than $6 million on television ads in Colorado.
The group's latest Colorado ad attacks incumbent Sen. Udall for supporting health care reform, with a narrator claiming that "on the Eastern Plains, patients now outnumber doctors 5,000 to one." The group cites the Independent for the statistic.
But the news outlet responded that GPS is misrepresenting its work. Reporter Tessa Cheek, whose reporting was quoted by GPS, wrote that the commercial added the word "now" to deceptively suggest the patient-to-doctor ratio is a result of the ACA when in fact it "has nothing to do with the new law":
The difference is the word "now," and it's the difference between true and, well, not true, because "now" makes the 5,000-to-one figure look like an outcome of the Affordable Care Act. The figure has nothing to do with the new law.
"All of that data is pre 2014 Affordable Care Act implementation, so pre-Medicaid expansion, pre-ACA rollout," confirmed Rebecca Alderfer, Colorado Health Institute senior analyst and an author of the report we cited in our article about the systemic challenges facing rural health care expansion.
In addition to being unrelated to the ACA time-wise, the figure is also not directly about insurance. Specifically, it reflects the number of primary care doctors in relation to the number of people living in their area. It's not a figure that speaks to the number of insured people or the number of providers who will accept their insurance. Alderfer tells us it's too soon for figures that will tell how the ACA has impacted health care accessibility in rural areas, but that the Institute will have a full report on that -- including figures from the 2014 open enrollment period -- this time next year.
Rove has repeatedly used his Fox News position to praise Udall's Republican opponent Cory Gardner (via Nexis):
- On the August 25's Hannity, Rove said: "Cory Gardner is a fantastic candidate in Colorado and looking good."
- On the May 20's The Kelly File, Rove said: "Colorado, seven weeks ago -- this was over seven weeks ago, Congressman Cory Gardner entered the race. Since then, outside groups on the democratic side have spent $1.7 million attacking him. We're gonna put up $2.3 million in the coming months to support him."
- On February 26's Hannity, Rove said that "news is breaking in Colorado that Representative Cory Gardner, a bright young rising star in the House, had decided that he's going to on Udall in the Senate race. He can win that race. He's a terrific young guy, comes from northeastern Colorado, a young, thoughtful, strong conservative."
Rove and GPS have been airing false and hypocritical ads against Democratic candidates this cycle. GPS previously aired an ad that, as FactCheck.org wrote, "leaves the false impression that a Colorado woman 'had to go back to work' to pay for health care insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act. She told a local TV station that her decision to get a job had nothing to do with the health care law."