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Medical News & Perspectives
June 16, 2004

GAO: Medicare Ads Were Illegal

JAMA. 2004;291(23):2808. doi:10.1001/jama.291.23.2808

Video news releases produced by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) touting the new Medicare prescription drug act constitute illegal propaganda, according to the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress.

Earlier this year, the DHHS distributed the videos to news stations nationwide, ostensibly to educate the nation's 41 million Medicare beneficiaries. Included in the video package were three complete segments filmed and narrated as if they were news stories. The two English-language segments open with a narrator saying, "It's the same Medicare you've always counted on plus more benefits." The narrator closes by saying, "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting." A Spanish-language segment begins and ends in a similar manner.