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Camp, Herger Request HHS Stop Factually Inaccurate Medicare Propaganda Mailing

May 26, 2010

Washington, D.C. – Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Wally Herger (R-CA) today sent a letter requesting that Government Accountability Office (GAO) Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro examine the legality of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) mailing to seniors about the Democrats’ health overhaul on the grounds that it is factually inaccurate and constitutes taxpayer-funded propaganda.  Camp and Herger also sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking that CMS immediately stop all mailings until the GAO has issued an official opinion.
Camp and Herger expressed specific concern over the Obama Administration’s use of Medicare funds to advertise a number of policies for which seniors are largely ineligible:

  • Early-retiree subsidy for retirees under age 65;
  • High-risk pools for individuals without Medicare or other insurance; 
  • A prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions for children under age 19;
  • Allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26; 
  • Funding for community health centers; and
  • A federal long-term care insurance program for workers. 

In addition, Camp and Herger noted the mailer omitted information including the fact the health overhaul contained over one-half trillion dollars in Medicare cuts that CMS’s own actuaries found could jeopardize seniors’ access to care. 

Camp: “I have serious concerns about the misuse of taxpayer funds to distribute such a misleading document. The mailer fails to recognize the fact that millions of seniors are soon going to lose their Medicare plan and millions of other seniors will be paying more for their prescription drug coverage, but receive no direct benefit from those higher premiums.  Instead of trying to win political points with deceptive mailings that include information completely unrelated to seniors, the Administration should focus on preparing seniors for the negative effects the one-half trillion in cuts will have on their Medicare coverage.”

Herger: “A full and thorough review of this HHS propaganda mailing is certainly in order.  Based on my review, it was sent not to educate seniors, but rather in an effort to convince them to support a deeply flawed health care law that a majority of Americans have rejected.  It is at best an incomplete and at worst a patently misleading depiction of the legislation. The American people deserve to know whether the Administration is using their hard-earned money for what appears to be political purposes, and as such, whether dissemination of the brochure is unlawful.  The Administration should immediately stop further use of this mailing until the GAO completes its review.”

The letter to GAO Acting Comptroller Dodaro can be read here.

The letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius can be read here.

Background: Ways and Means Committee Republicans released a document that highlights just seven of the misleading and inaccurate statements in the HHS mailing.