Cbs Creates More Medicare Ad Controversy

WASHINGTON – The Campaign for America’s Future and MoveOn.org coordinated more than 3000 people across the country last week to demand that Congress repeal and replace President Bush ‘s new prescription drug law that hands massive new corporate profits to drug companies in more than 120 meetings with their Reps. and Senators during the congressional recess. The number of angered citizens demanding meetings with their lawmakers grew when the public learned that the Bush Administration used tax-payer funds for “political” ads to sell the law to the public. Much of the anger was directed at the Bush Administration and the CBS television network when they flipped back and forth on their policy for allowing ads on the air.

CBS this week refused to air a MoveOn.org ad citing flaws in the Bush Medicare plan, labeling it as issue “advocacy,” despite concerns about other ads airing on the network. The network pulled a Bush Medicare ad citing similar reasons when the General Accounting Office was prompted to investigate the content of the misleading ad. CBS last week began re-airing the Bush ad despite concerns regarding its political nature.

Democrats and Republicans agree that the Bush Medicare plan fails to reduce drug prices, forces seniors out of traditional Medicare and into managed care plans and provides weak drug benefits that don’t match current ones. Rebecca Roth is a retired school teacher in Albuquerque, N.M. Roth demanded that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) repeal the law immediately, citing that the Bush Medicare plan forces people into HMOs and will force retirees to lose their prescription drug coverage.

“I’ve got a wonderful prescription drug plan,” Roth said. “That can be lost.”

Dick Greenwood of Iowa City is 70 years old and believes millions of people like him were left out of the Bush Medicare plan, which primarily benefits drug companies.

“All we ever asked for was a simple prescription drug benefit,” Greenwood told Rep. James Leach (R-Iowa) in a meeting with 17 of his neighbors upset about President Bush’s Medicare plan.

Leach gave his word to the Iowa City group that he will fight to reverse the Bush Medicare plan that forces people into private health care plans and provides weak prescription drug benefits calling for a new Congress to solve the problem.

“I’ve given you my commitment,” Leach said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be successful until we get a new Congress.”

Greenwood and Roth’s concerns were echoed across the country. Lisa Ethier and Kiersten Marek of Cranston, R.I. joined a dozen people from their community to make it clear to Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) that they will fight the Bush Medicare plan.

“It’s not in the best interest of seniors,” Ethier said. “It’s in the drug companies’ interests.”

“The current Bush Medicare plan will fail to bring down the cost of drugs,” Marek added.

Hundreds nationwide most importantly said that the Bush Medicare plan prohibits the government from negotiating with drug companies for lower-priced prescription drugs. Paul Vance of Albuquerque, who worked for the U.S. Public Health Service and attended the meeting with Sen. Domenici said these negotiations could save millions of dollars.

“It is idiotic not to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices,” said Vance.

Campaign for America’s Future Co-director Roger Hickey said people nationwide gathered because the Bush Medicare plan caters to Bush-Cheney political contributors by forbidding the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices.

“People across the country are mad that the Bush Medicare law will make them pay more for prescription drugs than they do now,” said Hickey. “It provides big benefits for President Bush, big drug companies, and HMOs instead of affordable prescription drugs to people that depend on medication to live.”

President Bush’s political campaign’s media firm developed $9.5 million of the Bush Administration’s misleading Medicare television ads and $10 million of brochures with tax-payer funds. The GAO is still investigating whether the ad campaign violates a federal law that bars tax-payer funds for “political or propaganda purposes.” The House Ethics Committee also launched an inquiry into whether Republican leaders threatened or bribed one lawmaker before the legislation’s unprecedented three-hour roll call vote.

Lawmakers last month proposed an overhaul to the Bush Medicare plan that would lift the ban that prevents the federal government from negotiating lower Medicare drug prices with pharmaceutical companies more interested in corporate profits. President Bush has promised to veto any changes to his prescription drug law despite flaws in the plan and major cost errors.

CBS ADVOCACY AD PLACEMENT TIMELINE

Mid-Jan.
MoveOn.org asks CBS to air their “Bush in 30 seconds” winning ad.

 

Jan. 14
CBS refuses to air the ad, citing its policy against airing ads having “undue influence on controversial issues of public importance.”

 

Feb. 3
Bush Administration’s misleading political ad on Medicare begins airing on CBS.

 

Feb 12
GAO is prompted to investigate if the Bush ad is a “political” advocacy ad.

 

Mid-Feb.
CBS pulls the Bush ad and CBS’s Dana McClintock states, “as soon as we became aware of the investigation, we pulled it.”

 

Feb. 16
to Feb. 20

More than 3000 people across the country demand that Congress repeal and replace President Bush’s new prescription drug law and that the Bush Medicare ad be pulled.

 

Feb. 18
CBS resumes airing the Bush ad while the GAO investigation hits roadblocks in gathering information from the White House.

 

Feb. 23
MoveOn.org asks CBS to air their “Bush in 30 seconds” ad, citing CBS’ policy reversal

 

Feb. 24
CBS refuses to air the MoveOn.org ad, stating that “CBS TV Network policy precludes acceptance of advocacy advertising. We therefore cannot approve the above referenced commercial.”

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