Millions pour in to persuade Democrats on health care bill

WASHINGTON — The yearlong legislative fight over health care is drawing to a frenzied close as a multimillion-dollar wave of advertising that rivals the ferocity of a presidential campaign takes aim at about 40 House Democrats whose votes will help determine the fate of President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

The coalition of groups opposing the legislation, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is singling out 27 Democrats who supported the health care bill last year and 13 who opposed it. The organizations have spent $11 million this month focusing on these lawmakers, with more spending to come before an expected vote next weekend.

An alliance of groups supporting the health care plan, which works closely with the White House and Democratic leaders, had been spending far less and focusing on fewer districts. But after pharmaceutical companies made a $12 million investment for a final advertising push, spending by both sides for the first time is now nearly the same.

Not only are these swing Democrats being pummeled in a new spate of advertising — which could total $30 million before week's end — but extensive efforts are under way in congressional districts, where groups on both sides of the issue are using tactics similar to get-out-the-vote drives to urge constituents to contact their lawmakers.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, pledged to do "everything we can to make it difficult for them, if not impossible, to pass the bill." He also joined other Republicans Sunday in warning that Democrats would pay for the legislation by losing even more seats than expected in November.

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Patient's dilemma

President Barack Obama plans to travel today to the Strongsville, Ohio, home of cancer patient Natoma Canfield, who wrote the president she gave up her health insurance premium after it rose to $8,500 a year. Canfield is a self-employed cleaning worker who lives in the Cleveland suburb. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said she had to decide between keeping her health insurance or her house and chose to keep her house. Canfield's sister was scheduled to introduce Obama at the afternoon event.

Associated Press

Millions pour in to persuade Democrats on health care bill 03/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 15, 2010 12:26am]

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