Advocacy Group with Pharmaceutical Industry Ties to Run Ads Supporting GOP Medicare Drug Benefit Proposal
A "conservative group with ties to the pharmaceutical industry" has announced plans to launch a multimillion-dollar television advertising campaign in support of the House Republican Medicare prescription drug benefit proposal, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The United Seniors Association, which describes itself as a "conservative seniors' organization," will run a $3 million ad campaign in more than a dozen cities over the next two weeks, according to Republican and Democratic officials. Several key Republicans said that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America had provided funds for the ads, but United Seniors President Charles Jarvis disputed the claim. "This is not a PhRMA (advertising) buy. It is a national grass-roots buy." PhRMA spokesperson Jackie Cottrell said her organization has recently given United Seniors an "unrestricted educational grant" of an undisclosed amount (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 5/9). Under the House GOP plan, Medicare beneficiaries would pay monthly premiums of $35 to $40, with a $250 annual deductible. Beneficiaries would receive coverage for 70% to 80% of the first $1,000 of their annual prescription drug costs and coverage for 50% of their annual costs between $1,000 and $2,250. Seniors would have to cover 100% of their annual prescription drug costs between $2,250 and $5,000, but the legislation would cover 100% of annual costs of more than $5,000. The bill also would cover all drug costs for beneficiaries with annual incomes less than 135% of the federal poverty level, and seniors with annual incomes slightly more than that level would receive aid on a sliding scale. The bill also incorporates President Bush's proposed prescription drug discount card (California Healthline, 5/6). Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Jenny Backus said, "The same people who brought America higher prescription drug costs are writing the Republican bill and writing the TV ads," adding, "Americans just aren't going to buy it" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 5/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.