“I survived a brain tumor, but if I had relied on my government for health care, I’d be dead.”

Those are the dramatic words of Toronto resident Shona Holmes, star of a current television campaign against President Obama’s health care plan. The ads, produced by a group called Patients United Now, portray Holmes as a frightening real-life example of the horrors U.S. citizens would face if health care were nationalized.

However, there’s a slight problem with the ad: Holmes’ story isn’t true. Though Holmes has claimed many times on television that she was diagnosed with a deadly brain tumor in 2005, in actuality, what doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona removed was a cyst that threatened her vision. Furthermore, her condition has actually worsened since traveling to the United States for treatment, and she had to put a second mortgage on her home to pay for the $100,000 surgery.

Media Matters tackled the inaccuracies in the Patients United Now "Survivor" ad starring Holmes, including the insinuation that a health care system like Canada’s would lead to delayed care. The media watchdog organization asks, “when Americans cannot afford health care, isn’t that suffering from ‘delayed or denied’ care?” and notes that Obama’s health care plan is not based on Canada’s model.

Beyond that, what Patients United Now fails to mention in its ubiquitous ads is that it’s a front group for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the lobbying organization responsible for the Tax Day Tea Party protests and the Hot Air Tour, a campaign of misinformation about supposed ‘global warming alarmism’.

The organization also hosted "Drill, baby, drill" rallies around the country last year, financed Joe the Plumber’s tour against the Employee’s Free Choice Act and started "NoStimulus.com," a fake grassroots website that perpetuate false claims about the stimulus bill.

Masquerading as an organic grassroots organization is a common theme for Americans for Prosperity, which answers the question "Who Are We?" on the Patients United Now website with “We are people just like you.”

Except they’re not. Kevin Grandia of DeSmogBlog reports that AFP is a conservative think-tank funded in part by Koch Family Foundations, which has made its money in the oil business — primarily oil refining. Koch Industries holds stakes in pipelines, refineries, fertilizer, forest products and chemical technology. AFP is also connected to ExxonMobil, having received nearly $400,000 from the oil giant between 1998-2001 when the organization was known as Citizens for A Sound Economy.

And if its past actions are to be judged, Americans for Prosperity isn’t exactly a cheerleader for improved health in America. The organization advocates pro-tobacco industry positions on issues like clean air laws, opposing attempts to regulate air pollution from cigarettes on the grounds that the issue is one of economics and personal liberty, not of public health.

Jessica Kutch of the Service Employees International Union’s analysis of the "Survivor" ad pretty well sums up the modus operandi of AFP:

“This latest attack is lifted straight off a messaging memo by Republican strategist Frank Luntz, whose talking points aim to undermine health care reform in three simple steps: scare, conflate and confuse the American public.”

Americans for Prosperity: Fighting clean air, global warming action and health care for all
Lobbying organization that funded global warming denial campaign produces misleading ads about Obama’s health care plan.