Commentary

Question 2 supporters accused of pushing ‘unethical’ ads on social media

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Lies and deceit continue from the campaign pushing for Medicaid expansion, or Question 2, which would provide health coverage to childless, able-bodied working age adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level at the expense of hardworking, taxpaying Mainers.

Maine Equal Justice Partners (MEJP), in conjunction with the Mainers for Health Care and other groups affiliated with the Maine People’s Alliance, has been sponsoring ads in favor of Question 2 on Facebook and other social media platforms for weeks leading up to the election. However, one of their ads caught the attention of a local hospital that is disputing the false claims made by MEJP.

The Down East Community Hospital in Machias set the record straight yesterday when it responded to MEJP’s false advertising claims. According to the ads run be MEJP, “Down East Community Hospital has been operating in the red and may need to make drastic cuts to the staff and services you rely on. Medicaid expansion could allow them to remain viable and serve our community. Down East Community Hospital is running in the red and that Medicaid expansion could help save our hospital.”

This could not be further from the truth. Not only are the hospital’s operating margins positive, they have been for years, meaning MEJP did not do its homework before pushing their unethical advertisements. The hospital also called the group’s ads “misleading and unethical.”

The full response from Down East Community Hospital can be read below:

“The Maine Equal Justice Partners is running an ad on Facebook that looks like it comes from Down East Community Hospital. It does not. The ad states, “Down East Community Hospital has been operating in the red and may need to make drastic cuts to the staff and services you rely on. Medicaid expansion could allow them to remain viable and serve our community. Down East Community Hospital is running in the red and that Medicaid expansion could help save our hospital.”

This information does not come from our hospital and was not sanctioned by our hospital. Falsely using our identity is both misleading and unethical. Down East Community Hospital is doing well at this time. Our operating margins are positive and have been so for several years now. Our quality scores are excellent, and we have a group of extremely engaged employees and physicians who are continually committed to high quality and compassionate patient care serving our communities.

Although there are many hospitals that are struggling and there may be legitimate reasons to expand Medicaid, making erroneous claims about hospitals is not the way to drive political outcome or agenda.”

To help us relieve any unnecessary fears about the condition your hospital, please be sure to share this information with your friends on Facebook and with your friends in the community.”

David Farmer, a spokesman for Mainers for Health Care, said that making the ad appear as if it originated from Down East Community Hospital was “not the intent,” despite the inclusion of the hospitals logo in the advertisement.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is a policy analyst for the Maine Heritage Policy Center. He can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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