The General Accounting Office has concluded that HHS' Medicare advertisements don't constitute illegal political ads as some Democrats and other critics have charged. While the ads do leave out some important information, such as the annual fee beneficiaries must pay for drug discount cards, "we do not find the content ... of the advertisements to be purely partisan in violation of the publicity or propaganda prohibition," the GAO said in a legal opinion requested by Democrats. The television ad that sparked the controversy uses the phrase "Same Medicare. More Benefits" to promote recent changes to the program. Critics said such phrases are misleading and are being used by the Bush administration as political ammunition during an election season. "I urge (HHS Secretary Thompson) to read the GAO legal opinion in full, recognize the legitimacy of these concerns and agree to retool their campaign to ensure that the information seniors receive is worthwhile," Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said in a news release. -- by Jeff Tieman
GAO says Medicare ads aren't political, as charged
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