Right-wing media helped promote a shady Christian health organization that allegedly scammed thousands of its members
Numerous right-wing media figures and outlets helped promote Liberty HealthShare, a health care organization that allegedly scammed its members and saddled thousands of them with debt. The promoters include Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Matt Schlapp, Hugh Hewitt, and Dennis Prager.
The right-wing media push for Liberty HealthShare is another instance of conservatives helping swindle their followers for profit. For other examples, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
On February 25, ProPublica released an extensive investigation of Liberty HealthShare headlined, “A Christian Health Nonprofit Saddled Thousands With Debt as It Built a Family Empire Including a Pot Farm, a Bank and an Airline.”
Reporters Ryan Gabrielson and J. David McSwane found that the nonprofit, which is known as a health care sharing ministry, promised members “no red tape, lower costs and compassion for the sick.” Instead, Liberty HealthShare devastated the lives of “thousands of members” by leaving many “members struggling with millions of dollars in medical debt” through alleged fraud and self-enrichment.
Others, including HBO’s John Oliver and The New York Times, have also examined the organization’s scammy practices over the years.
By contrast, right-wing media outlets have been enthusiastic promoters of Liberty HealthShare since it was founded in 2014. Here are numerous examples:
Matt Schlapp is a right-wing commentator and chair of the American Conservative Union who helps oversee the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. (In January, The Daily Beast reported that “a staffer for Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign” alleged that Schlapp “made ‘sustained and unwanted and unsolicited’ sexual contact with him.”) ProPublica reported that “Liberty spent more than $200,000 a year between 2017 and 2021 to be a top sponsor at CPAC,” where multiple Liberty HealthShare representatives including then-chairman Dale Bellis have spoken.
Schlapp himself tweeted in 2018: “My sister joined @SharingLHS because out of control #Obamacare premiums prevented her from choosing a plan that worked for what her family needed. After you hear Dale Bellis at #CPAC2018, you’ll want to consider making the switch, too.”
CPAC’s Twitter account is also filled with promotions of Liberty HealthShare:
Newsmax ran a 2018 sponsored article claiming that “Liberty HealthShare gives freedom to its members … to seek care from whichever doctors and hospitals they decide are best for them.” It concluded by telling readers that they “can choose freedom in your healthcare cost decisions by joining a healthcare sharing ministry.”
The Daily Caller, which was co-founded by Tucker Carlson, had a “paid partnership” with Liberty HealthShare. In 2018, it posted an advertising piece for the organization that told readers: “If you need healthcare now and don’t want to break the bank to get it, a healthcare sharing organization such as Liberty HealthShare may be the right choice for you. Check out Liberty HealthShare, and don’t get stuck without healthcare heading into the new year.”
The Daily Signal is a site run by the Heritage Foundation that featured Bellis on a video podcast in 2020 promoting Liberty as “an alternative to mainstream insurance.” The Daily Signal also featured the organization in a 2018 podcast as “a faith-based alternative to Obamacare.”
RedState is a site owned by Salem Media Group. In 2016, it held a conference which was co-sponsored by Liberty HealthShare and, according to a schedule posted online, featured Bellis on a panel titled “Conservative Alternatives to Obamacare: Free Market Solutions.”
The Washington Times gave op-ed space to Bellis to promote Liberty HealthShare in 2020. The publication also posted a sponsored article for Liberty HealthShare on its site.
Hugh Hewitt, a radio host with Salem Media Group, endorsed the group and posted an ad online stating: “We love having Liberty HealthShare on the show! Check out this healthcare sharing organization that is changing healthcare in America for good! Learn more by visiting https://LibertyHealthShare.org/Freedom or call 855-585-4237!”
Dennis Prager, a radio host with Salem Media Group, posted an ad for the group stating: “America stands for freedom. Stand by it and choose freedom in your healthcare. Choose Liberty HealthShare! Learn more about this healthcare sharing organization at http://LibertyHealthShare.org/Freedom or call 855-585-4237!”
Wayne Allyn Root is a radio host who has a history of backing scammy advertising. He repeatedly endorsed Liberty HealthShare online, claiming: “I left health insurance for [the] first time in my life. I joined Liberty Healthshare- a Christian health sharing organization. No more health insurance for me”; and “Liberty HealthShare has my back when it comes to my medical expenses!”
Wayne Dupree is a conspiracy theorist and podcaster. He has posted a promotion for the organization stating: “You don't need #Obamacare - Just visit http://www.LibertyHealthShare.org and sign up with them or call 855-585-4237 & speak to reps!”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who attempts to be a media figure by hosting a podcast in his apparent free time, has also promoted Liberty HealthShare online: