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May, 2004

Bush Misleads Seniors On New Drug Cards

Less than a year ago, President Bush promised Americans that he would "provide seniors with a drug discount card that saves them 10 to 25% off the cost of all drugs, so they'll start seeing savings immediately" on their medications (1). But, as the program launches next week, experts have concluded that the cards don't guarantee seniors any savings at all (2). Additionally, instead of admitting this, the President used millions in taxpayer money to promote the cards through television ads - ads that government regulators later said were misleading.

As the New York Times reports, the White House plan locks seniors into the cards they initially choose, then allows the card sponsors "to change their prices on a weekly basis," thus never guaranteeing any benefit at all (3). Instead of telling the seniors the truth when this reality became apparent, the President used tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to air television ads promising that the drug cards will save seniors money. Some of the ads even used fake reporters in an effort to trick viewers into thinking they were watching objective news (4). The General Accounting Office soon concluded that the ads contained "notable omissions and errors" (5).

One possible reason the President never forced card sponsors to guarantee savings could be Bush's relationship with a longtime Texas crony and drug card industry executive who could profit from bilking seniors. According to the Boston Globe, the President allowed David Halbert, CEO of drug card company AdvancePCS, to "craft the portion of the Medicare bill" that created the card program, even though Halbert had a financial interest in the bill and has had a close relationship with Bush for years (6). For instance, "Bush had been an investor in a Halbert-owned predecessor company to AdvancePCS" and Halbert "contributed to Bush campaigns from his 1994 gubernatorial race through his White House bid in 2000."

Source:

1. President Bush Calls for Action on 38th Anniversary of Medicare, 07/30/2003, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1322174&l=31335. 2. "New Drug Card Called Passport To Confusion", Hartford Courant, 04/25/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1322174&l=31336. 3. "Feds will keep drug discount on the up and up", Wichita Eagle, 12/11/2003, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1322174&l=31337. 4. "Publicity Campaign Under Scrutiny", ABC News, 03/15/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1322174&l=31338. 5. "Bush Medicare Reform Bill Become a Nightmare for GOP", Miami Herald, 03/19/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1322174&l=31339. 6. "Bush ally's firm vies for Medicare cards", Boston Globe, 12/12/2003, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1322174&l=31340.

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