Great examples of the constitutional right of political free speech just raised on the McCain endorsement thread.
Having said that, the above health care assaults against Obama happen to be misleading in the extreme. I know because I represented the CFO of a not-for-profit hospital in a bankruptcy proceeding a few years back. Here's how the system works and why the whole premise of these very high production value smear ads is false:
All hospitals have cost structures for their services. "List prices" if you will. When HMO's began to become popular, they were no more expensive than traditional "major medical" insurance -- but they covered everything. How could they do that? By their initial low premiums, they gained control of the patient population, thus capturing the market and developing the clout to negotiate lower fees with all the medical providers in the system, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, the whole gamut. With hospitals, the discounts the HMO's negotiate are called "contractual allowances." So, if the hospital's "list price" for a day in a semi-private room in a particular ward is, say, $1000, if a particular HMO negotiated a "contractual allowance" of 40% on that cost item, they'd only have to pay $600 for that day for their insured. If the hospital doesn't want to accept that rate, they risk not being on the approved list of hospitals for that HMO and, as the HMO's accumulated larger and larger groups of insureds, that would translate into the risk of going out of business, which we all know has happened a lot. Because the HMO's can crush them like the proverbial bug.
When uninsured people show up at hospitals, they are charged the "list price" for everything, whether they can pay or not. Is it unfair to uninsured patients? Sure, but it's not because these poor, uninsured folks are being charged more, it's because the HMO's have forced the hospitals to charge their insureds less.
The idea that Barack simply could "walk down the street" to the not-for-profit hospital where his wife serves on the Board and tell them to lower their "list prices" is absurd, for one thing because the "contractual allowances" may be somewhat different for various HMO's. If it were so easy to do, Hillary would have done it in 1993. It ain't.
Tough, grossly misleading ads. Will it stick? Time will tell.