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Health Law Foes Used FL as Lab

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Tampa Bay residents still recovering from the onslaught of anti-Obamacare campaign ads from the recent election may better understand why they feel shell-shocked after reading an article from The New York Times.

Americans for Prosperity, a super-conservative group funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, decided to  make Congressional District 13 in Florida a testing ground.  

The Times reports that AFP used data and focus groups in the district to fine-tune messages against the Affordable Care Act,  to build strength toward AFP’s ultimate goal: persuading Americans that government is inept, so it should be kept weak and small.

After President Obama’s re-election in 2012, AFP changed its strategy to hire actors to tell emotional stories about the law’s failure.  The group did not modify its messages when fact-check groups called them  into question.

In the end, Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink.

In a fund-raising visit to Miami Thursday, President Obama alluded to the campaign, The Miami Herald reports, saying: “I know there are a lot of TV ads around that don’t always accurately reflect what’s going on.”

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.