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CBS Pulls Controversial Bush Medicare Ad

  • February 17th, 2004

CBS has stopped running the Bush administration's ad for the new Medicare prescription drug law pending an investigation into whether it is really a political ad that should not be funded with taxpayer dollars.

The Bush administration launched the $9.5 million television advertising campaign to rebut criticism of the new Medicare law. The 30-second ad, titled "Same Medicare. More Benefits," addresses some of the major criticism of the law, including charges that it will force seniors out of traditional Medicare and into managed care plans and that savings from the law's prescription drug coverage will be insignificant. The ad was denounced by Democratic lawmakers and a range of interest groups who say it is a thinly disguised commercial for President Bush's re-election campaign. (See "Groups Decry Taxpayer-Funded Bush Ad on Medicare Law," ElderLawAnswers, February 6, 2004.)

The General Accounting Office (GAO), Congress' investigative arm, is examining whether the administration should be using taxpayer money to air the commercial.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who requested the GAO investigation, said: "The bottom line is that this ad is an illegal use of taxpayer dollars and is under active investigation. My hope is now other networks will follow suit. It is the least they should do until the official investigation by GAO is concluded."

NBC, ABC, CNN and Fox are continuing to run the ad, although ABC requested changes and NBC is considering the Democrats' request to pull it.

Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, said the law authorizes him to mount a campaign to educate Medicare recipients about significant changes in the program. But Thompson said that if the GAO determines that the ad is political, "it will be pulled immediately."

For an Associated Press article on the controversy, click here. (Article may no longer be available.)

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Last Modified: 02/17/2004

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