A new ad from a super PAC supporting President Obama featuring the sad story of a man who lost his health insurance and his wife to cancer after Bain Capital took over his company is largely untrue, according to a report by CNN.
The ad, called “Understands,” features Joe Soptic, who was laid off by GST Steel in Kansas City, in 2001 after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s private-equity firm took over management of the company and shut it down. Soptic claims in the ad that he lost his health insurance, which caused his wife to delay a hospital visit, resulting in her cancer going undiagnosed until it was too late.
But CNN recently interviewed Soptic and found that there was a five-year interval between the plant’s closure and Soptic’s wife’s death. She also had her own insurance for part of that period.
Reporter Brianna Keilar writes, “Sometime in 2002 or 2003, Mr. Soptic says his wife injured her rotator cuff and was forced to leave her job. As a result, she lost her health insurance coverage, and Mr. Soptic’s new job as a janitor did not provide coverage for his spouse. It was a few years later, in 2006, that Ilyona Soptic went to the hospital with symptoms of pneumonia. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and passed away just days later.”
Soptic told CNN that the ad reflected his feelings. “Mitt Romney is a very rich man. I mean, it is obvious if you watch him on television, he is completely out of touch with the average family -- you know, middle-income people. I don’t think he has any concept as to how, when you close a big company how [it] affects families, the community, you know, it affects everyone,” he said.
Bill Burton, cofounder of the Priorities USA Action PAC, said the ad’s intent was not to blame Bain and Romney for the death of Soptic’s wife, but rather to demonstrate the lasting effects of his work at Bain.
“There are many factors to consider here, but the one thing we know is that when Mitt Romney came to town, made that investment, and forced that company out of business, hundreds of workers lost their jobs, their health care, and their pensions. The impact is felt still today in that community,” he said.
Romney Press Secretary Andrea Saul said that if the couple had lived in Massachusetts, they would have been covered by the health care law Romney signed as governor. (She made no mention that Romney, as a presidential candidate this year, is distancing himself from the same law, which served as a basis for the one adopted nationally by Obama and Congress in 2010.)
“Under Governor Romney’s health care plan, they would have had health care,” Saul said on Fox News. “There are a lot of people losing their jobs and losing their health care in President Obama’s economy.”