GAO says advertisements on the Medicare reform law misleading

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The General Accounting Office said Wednesday that advertisements and brochures the Bush administration has created on the new Medicare reform law misrepresent the prescription drug benefits for seniors. The advertisements, though not illegal, have omissions and weaknesses, the GAO said.

The omissions and misrepresentations include the administration neglecting to say beneficiaries may be charged up to $30 for drug discount cards available in June. The administration also suggested the law set a premium of $35 a month for drug coverage, when that is only an estimate and ignores potential penalties for late enrollment, the GAO said.

The Bush administration plans to spend more than $22 million on advertisements to tout the new law. The flier is being sent to all 41 million Medicare beneficiaries.

The GAO said the new law might increase Medicare's long-term financial problems rather than preserve and strengthen it.