GAO report clears Obama administration of wrongdoing in healthcare reform brochure

Congressional investigators said Thursday that the Obama administration's healthcare reform brochure did not violate prohibitions on publicity and propaganda.

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee requested the review of the Department of Health and Human Services's four-page brochure when it was sent to Medicare beneficiaries back in May.

"Although the HHS brochure contains instances in which HHS presented abbreviated information and a positive view of PPACA [the health reform law] that is not universally shared, nothing in the brochure constitutes communications that are purely partisan, self-aggrandizing, or covert," the 15-page report states.

Predictably, Republicans selectively picked from the GAO report to make their case that the "nearly $20 million Medicare mailer misleads America's seniors by falsely claiming the Democrats' health care law would not negatively impact seniors' benefits." 

Specifically, Ways and Means ranking member David Camp (R-Mich.) and health subcommittee ranking member Wally Herger (R-Calif.) highlighted the following statements from the report: 

"[T]he brochure overstates some of (the law's) benefits”;

“In our view, the brochure presents a picture of PPACA that is not universally shared. For example, two government analyses have determined that (its) reductions in funding for Medicare Advantage may decrease enrollment and result in less generous benefit packages,” and “…significant increases in premiums for some beneficiaries may be necessary”; and   

“The brochure does not provide beneficiaries with a comprehensive summary of changes to Medicare that will be implemented as a result of (the law), and in several instances it provides abbreviated information that leaves out details about (the law).”