CMS Ad Campaign To Promote Medicare Drug Benefit Examined
The Hill on Tuesday examined efforts by CMS to promote the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, which begins on Jan. 1, 2006. According to The Hill, CMS has spent $25 million to $30 million on an advertising campaign to inform Medicare beneficiaries that the enrollment period for the prescription drug benefit began on Nov. 15 and will last until May 15.
The campaign, developed by the public relations firm Ketchum, includes ads on broadcast television networks, cable channels and network radio, as well as ads in "widely circulated publications such as Parade, Readers' Digest and Prevention," The Hill reports.
The campaign represents about 10% of the total that CMS will spend this year to promote the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and the ads could help convince uncertain beneficiaries to enroll in the program.
George Kelemen, director of outreach efforts for AARP, said, "They appear to be pretty good ads," adding, "They've got a pretty straight message."
Vicki Gottlich, senior policy attorney for the Center for Medicare Advocacy, said, "I think they've improved their ads," adding that the ads are "much more informative than in previous years."
CMS spokesperson Gary Karr said that the agency hopes the ads will prompt a "national conversation" about the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
According to experts, the release of the ads near the holidays should help encourage family members to discuss the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
Karr said that the ads do not specifically target the adult children of Medicare beneficiaries but added that the agency effort to promote enrollment in the prescription drug benefit includes an "intergenerational component" (Young, The Hill, 11/22).
A number of newspapers recently published articles on the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Headlines appear below.
- "Nursing Homes Brace for Shift" (Powell, Akron Beacon Journal, 11/21).
- "Medicare Part D: A Comprehensive Guide for Seniors and Caregivers" (Bergen Record, 11/22).
- "Medicare's Drug Plans Stir Outbreak of Confusion" (Graham/Fergus, Chicago Tribune, 11/19).
- "New Coverage Plans Confound Many Seniors" (Hipp, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 11/20).
- "Medicare Drug Plans Not One-Size-Fits-All" (Vos, Lexington Herald-Leader, 11/21).
- "Drug Benefit May Hurt the Neediest" (Pugh, Miami Herald, 11/20).
- "Baffled by Drug Plan" (Grace, New York Daily News, 11/20).
- "Seniors Drug Plan Has Catch" (Fisher, Raleigh News & Observer, 11/21).
- "Medicare Part D a Head-Scratcher" (Davia, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 11/20).
- "Medicare Drug Plan May Squeeze Pharmaceuticals" (Agovino, AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/20).
- "Distracted by Wilma, Many Haven't Done Homework on Medicare Enrollment" (Lade, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 11/21).
- "Medicare Plans Won't Cover Every Drug" (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 11/20).
- "Explaining Medicare Drug Benefit Can Be a Headache for the Kids (Rubenstein, Wall Street Journal, 11/21).
- "Seniors Find Medicare Drug Plan Options Bewildering" (Levine, Washington Post, 11/19).
ABCNews' "World News Tonight" on Monday reported on federal rules under which pharmacists cannot help Medicare beneficiaries select prescription drug plans. The segment includes comments from Kathleen Harrington, director of the CMS Office of External Affairs; Gary Rutherford, a pharmacist with Columbus Prescription; and Medicare beneficiaries (Harris, "World News Tonight," ABCNews, 11/21). A related ABCNews.com story is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday" examined confusion about the Medicare prescription drug benefit among beneficiaries. The segment includes comments from Medicare beneficiaries (Silberner, "Weekend Edition Saturday," NPR, 11/19). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Additional information about the Medicare drug benefit also is available online.