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McConnell Blasts Health Care Brochure as Government ‘Propaganda’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the Obama administration Tuesday over a color brochure promoting the benefits of the new health care law that is being mailed to Medicare recipients.

The Kentucky Republican held up a copy of the four-page pamphlet from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services while delivering his morning floor remarks. He referred to the mailer as “nothing short of government propaganda paid for by the taxpayer.” McConnell charged the administration with hypocrisy given that it previously ordered private insurance companies to refrain from sending policyholders information that prompted skepticism of the new health care law.

“Just yesterday, I came across a recent flier from the Department Health and Human Services that does the very thing the administration didn’t want private companies to do,” McConnell said, just two hours before President Barack Obama was scheduled to join Senate Republicans for lunch. “So this is a complete outrage, and it’s precisely the kind of thing Americans are so angry about at the moment.”

Republican sources said McConnell planned to ask Don Berwick, Obama’s nominee to serve as CMS administrator, about the CMS brochure when the two meet Tuesday on Capitol Hill. The meeting had already been scheduled as a part of the confirmation process.

According to an e-mail sent to Capitol Hill staff by Amy Hall, director of the CMS Office of Legislation, Medicare recipients beginning Tuesday will receive a brochure titled “Medicare and the New Health Law — What it Means for You.” The pamphlet, published in English and Spanish, summarizes how the health care reform law enacted in March affects Medicare recipients and their families.

The brochure includes a letter from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius touting the provisions of the new law. The pamphlet is then broken down into sections with the following headlines: “Improvements in Medicare You Will See Right Away,” “Improvements Beyond Medicare That You and Your Family Can Count On” and “The New Law Preserves and Strengthens Medicare.”

With the debate over financial regulatory reform complete, Senate Republicans are renewing their focus on criticizing the new health care reform law. Every Republican in Congress opposed the law upon final passage.

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