New Medicare brochures propaganda?

posted at 10:12 am on May 26, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Republicans in Congress are raising red flags over the latest Medicare newsletter/brochure and its sales pitch on ObamaCare.  The Daily Caller reports that the newly released brochure misrepresents parts of ObamaCare and leaves out information that would seem to be just as important to Medicare beneficiaries as the data included by CMS and Kathleen Sebelius.  Republicans are blasting it as pro-administration propaganda:

Republican leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor Tuesday to call the flyer an “outrage.” A copy of the brochure can be viewed here.

He said the leaflet from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (part of the Department Health and Human Services) tells seniors what the health care bill means for them, but much of it directly contradicts what the Obama administration’s own experts have said about the law. “This is nothing short of government propaganda, paid for by the taxpayer,” McConnell said.

“The administration’s own actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says seniors who use Medicare Advantage will lose benefits as a result of this bill. Yet the flyer they’re putting out says nothing about this. Instead, it implies nothing will change for these seniors,” he said.

McConnell said “perhaps most egregious is the claim that a bill which cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars will actually ‘preserve and strengthen’ Medicare.”

CMS responded by saying that they needed to publish the brochure in order to keep Medicare patients from falling victim to scamsters.  That’s part of their mission, and it’s true that changes in the law cause creeps to come out of the woodwork to defraud seniors and the government.  The brochure’s first page makes that intent clear, but prefaces it with a healthy dose of … cheeriness (emphases mine):

The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama this year will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality health care. It will also ensure accountability throughout the health care system so that you, your family, and your doctor—not insurance companies—have greater control over your care.

These are needed improvements that will keep Medicare strong and solvent. Your guaranteed Medicare benefits won’t change—whether you get them through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. Instead, you will see new benefits and cost savings, and an increased focus on quality to ensure that you get the care you need.

This brochure provides you with accurate information about the new services and benefits to help you and your family now and in the future.

Later, the brochure plays a more explicit bait-and-switch regarding the above claim about Medicare Advantage:

If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will still receive guaranteed Medicare benefits.

That’s very misleading.  Medicare Advantage patients always did have guaranteed Medicare benefits; those are the basic benefits of Medicare.  MA added benefits by having patients buy additional insurance through private Medicare partners, which then handled both Medicare and their own benefits packages.  The reduction of $500 billion in Medicare Advantage funding will mean fewer MA partners, reductions in benefits, and increases in costs for supplemental insurance to cover services which Medicare does not cover.  The end result for MA patients will be higher costs (thanks to the end of PPO-style co-pays instead of percentage co-pays) and less coverage.

This brochure makes it sound as though nothing will change for MA patients, which couldn’t be further from the truth.  Instead of informing MA patients of the changes coming, it leaves them completely unprepared for the big bills from either supplemental insurers or from providers who will start billing patients directly instead of the MA supplemental insurer.  It also doesn’t mention the reduction in providers that patients will discover when their MA policies suddenly disappear, and the provider networks along with them.

The rest of the brochure is even worse, with a section on how ObamaCare will help the families of Medicare patients — which have no relation at all to Medicare in most instances.  For instance, it brags about forcing insurers to keep adults on their parents’ policies until age 26.  Does that include Medicare?  Er, no.

This political advertisement should be immediately recalled, or failing that, charged in its entirety to the DNC or Organizing for America.


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OT: Sarah Palin is on Glenn Beck talking about her new neighbor.

Dire Straits on May 26, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Could the government be reported to the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising over this?

Not that they’d do anything, but it would be funny as H*ll to see them defend it to themselves.

teke184 on May 26, 2010 at 10:19 AM

In light of this accusation, the Obama administration has reviewed this brochure and has determined it is 100% accurate. Carry on.

WashJeff on May 26, 2010 at 10:24 AM

Orwell-O-Rama!

forest on May 26, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Washjeff: +1
:) excellent

cmsinaz on May 26, 2010 at 10:31 AM

This is sort of like that Veterans Publication a few years back, the dying with dignity one. Stupid people produce stupid stuff.

Johnnyreb on May 26, 2010 at 10:33 AM

You like your plan, you keep your plan v2.0

Joe Caps on May 26, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Talk about waste! Can you even imagine the cost that has gone into composing, printing billions of brochures and distributing to all offices that keep these on hand? A large supply would have been sent to every Social Security office and anyone else connected to Medicare in any way.

Oleta on May 26, 2010 at 10:39 AM

I didn’t see anywhere on that brochure advice on where to find a new doctor once your current one stops seeing you b/c you are a Medicare patient.

search4truth on May 26, 2010 at 10:39 AM

Obama’s own Federal Trade Commission would order this piece of garbage withdrawn and prosecute the senders for false advertising.

And this is the same CMS that bullied Humana when it tried to tell the truth about the impacts of Hellcare on Medicare Advantage.

Unbelievable.

rockmom on May 26, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Millions more of our tax dollars p*ssed away to propagate more Obama lies.

I’m so sick of this crap.

AZCoyote on May 26, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Could the government be reported to the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising over this?

Not that they’d do anything, but it would be funny as H*ll to see them defend it to themselves.

teke184 on May 26, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Sorry, I didn’t see your post before making mine! Great minds think alike. ;-)

rockmom on May 26, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Urgent Announcement from MinReq. The prol standard of living has risen 26% in the last quarter. Spontaneous celebrations have broken out all across the fruited plain. As a result choco-rations will be increased to 25 grams per week.

lm10001 on May 26, 2010 at 10:46 AM

The Daily Caller reports that the newly released brochure misrepresents parts of ObamaCare and leaves out information that would seem to be just as important

Sort of like Dear Liar’s campaign.

rbj on May 26, 2010 at 10:47 AM

This administration lies so fast/much that it’s hard to keep up.

MT on May 26, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Barak Hussein Orwell

Onus on May 26, 2010 at 10:51 AM

I got mine in mail yesterday. Didn’t read it. Do you think many did?

And, if so, those words will not take the sting out of the enormous pain in ass working with Medicare actually is. And, as a 53 year old with bone marrow cancer, there is no better ad AGAINST Obamacare than working “with” Medicare… even with my Blue Cross coverage as primary.

They don’t pay claims as much as push ‘em back and help the freakin’ Post Office stay in business…. sadly.

Shivas Irons on May 26, 2010 at 10:51 AM

I’ve been spending time with some elderly Democrats and they are nervous as hell about what is coming at them. But they don’t want to believe how bad OBAMACARE (take that Tapper) is going to be for them. This flyer is aimed directly at them. They will eat it up with a spoon.

myrenovations on May 26, 2010 at 10:52 AM

ObamaCare slashes half a trillion dollars cut from Medicare. I really can’t imagine anyone will notice.

Chuck Schick on May 26, 2010 at 10:53 AM

Was this product of the Ministry of Propgaganda written by Donald Berwick?

Buy Danish on May 26, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Last Paragraph:

Upper-income beneficiaries ($85,000 of annual income for individuals or $170,000 for married couples filing jointly) will pay higher premiums. This will impact about 2% of Medicare beneficiaries.

Reminds me of that scene from Shrek: “Some of you may die. But that’s a chance I’m willing to take.”

Onus on May 26, 2010 at 10:57 AM

McConnell said “perhaps most egregious is the claim that a bill which cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars will actually ‘preserve and strengthen’ Medicare.”

If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will still receive guaranteed Medicare benefits.

It sure looks likely that ole’ Pelosi had her creepy dictations transcribed ever so accurately.

Lourdes on May 26, 2010 at 10:59 AM

McConnell said “perhaps most egregious is the claim that a bill which cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars will actually ‘preserve and strengthen’ Medicare.”

If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will still receive guaranteed Medicare benefits.

It sure looks likely that ole’ Pelosi had her creepy dictations transcribed ever so accurately.

Lourdes on May 26, 2010 at 10:59 AM

It is the Chicago Way.

Every single facet of government is exploited to advance the political agendas of those who control the levers of government power.

It is the Obama Way.

novaculus on May 26, 2010 at 11:02 AM

CMS and DHHS are scamsters themselves.

Ward Cleaver on May 26, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Propaganda? I’m SHOCKED!

Why it’s BEGINNING TO APPEAR as if this entire administration is built on PROPAGANDA!

GarandFan on May 26, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Reached for comment, Marilyn Tavenner, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a release that an information brochure is necessary because “unfortunately new opportunities for Medicare beneficiaries also bring new opportunities for scam artists to try and defraud seniors.”

Ha! Pot meet kettle. The first person I think of when the phrase “scam artist” reaches my ears is Barack ‘Flim Flam’ Obama.

Buy Danish on May 26, 2010 at 11:06 AM

These people should not be allowed to use taxpayer dollars to propagandize THEIR disgusting agenda.

This political advertisement should be immediately recalled, or failing that, charged in its entirety to the DNC or Organizing for America.

Recall isn’t enough though. They should recall AND charge whatever’s been spent already to the DNC.

Murf76 on May 26, 2010 at 11:07 AM

O MY GAWD!!! A leftist government printing lies at tax-payer expense! Quick! Someone alert THE MEDIA!!!

sarc off/

oldleprechaun on May 26, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Obama: If you like your plan, you can keep it shove it.

Daggett on May 26, 2010 at 11:22 AM

I don’t see the question Ed, but I’m sure your handlers are real happy you framed the truth that way……just more Lukewarm Air.

dmann on May 26, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Kathleen Sebelius is perfect for Obamaganda. She is not only the biggest liar, but the most corrupt politician that has ever been from the state of Kansas. Lies and deceptions are the ties that bind this adminisration. The truth to a liberal nutroot is not what is supported by truth, but what they want it to be. The truth be damned.

volsense on May 26, 2010 at 11:51 AM

My parents are in their early 70′s. My Dad recently lost his job because of the economy, and because of the problems Obamacare could present for small businesses. They are now totally on Medicare whereas before they had private insurance. They have recently had some health issues, and it has been a total disaster in dealing with Medicare both A and B. Total disaster!

To be prudent, and because of the way things might trend, we have begun planning for them to move in with us in about a year. We of course are happy to do so, but it is something my parents hate to do because this is not how they wanted things to be. Better to be safe than sorry later.

There is nothing to indicate the economy, nor the future for the aging population is going to be bright when it comes to this Regime. Each day is a new revealing day on what is in the Obamacare bill, plans to attack 401Ks, savings of any kind, and all Americans income. Each day also brings not so great news on how this Regime plans on raising the costs of utilities, and goods. Whether it is going to be through a VAT tax on top of other taxes, or Cap and Tax via the EPA; we are about to jump the Carter shark.

freeus on May 26, 2010 at 11:59 AM

I doubt that most seniors will fall for this. Some may, others will simply not bother to read it and others will read it and either guffaw at being treated as stupid or get angry for the same reason. Not to worry–most seniors are pretty good at spotting propaganda.

jeanie on May 26, 2010 at 12:22 PM

I doubt that most seniors will fall for this. Some may, others will simply not bother to read it and others will read it and either guffaw at being treated as stupid or get angry for the same reason. Not to worry–most seniors are pretty good at spotting propaganda.

jeanie on May 26, 2010 at 12:22 PM

I agree — and, those Medicare Advantage insurance plans were very popular with many seniors (because they mostly provided a reasonable service for the purchase price — meaning, they functioned up to many consumer’s expectations and needs).

But the Administration AND the Democrat Congress did NOT listen to what voters (and most consumers) want and went ahead and ruined what was at least functioning well and well enough.

It was never a case of Obama, et al., working to try to legislate what worked well or serviced Americans well, it was all and only ever a case of them working toward a high level of “redistributive” taxpayer dollars: from the taxpayers, to the unions, mostly, and Democrat-voters otherwise.

Lourdes on May 26, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Better keep copies of that propaganda to show it to our kids, so they can learn about the lie of Big Government. Can this be used to defend ourselves against the rationing board?

ihasurnominashun on May 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM