WASHINGTON - February 25 - Families USA today launched a public information campaign - the Medicare Road Show - to educate seniors across the country about the new Medicare prescription drug law. The centerpiece of the campaign is a 13-minute video hosted by veteran anchorman Walter Cronkite.
In the video, Cronkite states: "This new law represents the biggest change to Medicare since the program's inception. The law is almost 700 pages long and is very complex. There are important decisions seniors will have to make on their own. In order to make informed decisions, seniors will have to understand the new law."
Today's kickoff event will be the first time the finished video is shown to seniors and the media. The first wave of the Medicare Road Show will visit more than 20 cities across the U.S. between the months of March and May. At the same time, approximately 10,000 copies of the video will be distributed to senior centers and retirement communities across the country.
"Seniors are bewildered by the law's bizarre and skimpy drug benefits, and they are angry that it prohibits Medicare from bargaining for more reasonable prices," said Ron Pollack, Families USA's Executive Director. "Although seniors are disappointed and confused about the new Medicare law, they need to understand it so they can make choices that are in their best interest."
Local leaders, celebrities, and senior advocates will join Pollack and other key staff members in cities visited by the Medicare Road Show, and will tell seniors what they should expect from the new Medicare law. In addition to watching the video, seniors will receive a Tool Kit with written materials about the new law, and they will be encouraged to use an online Personal Medicare Drug Calculator so they can learn about the drug benefits they will receive and how much they will have to pay in out-of-pocket costs.
"We took a very careful look at what seniors without drug coverage are paying now and what they will be paying when the new law is implemented," said Gail Shearer, Director of Health Policy Analysis for Consumers Union, who serves as an analyst on the Cronkite video. "We found that, if drug costs continue to increase at the rate they have been increasing, most seniors will be paying more out of pocket when this is fully implemented than they are today."
In addition to Shearer, the video includes footage of seniors Mildred Fruhling and Sydney Bild, and both will participate in the Medicare Road Show launch. Both seniors talked candidly about the struggles many older Americans face to afford the prescription drugs they need.
"Instead of spending millions of dollars of taxpayers' money in a 30-second political commercial that uses actors and provides no meaningful information about the new law, we joined forces with one of America's most respected journalists and listened to the concerns of real seniors. As a result, our video will truly help educate older Americans and will give them detailed information about the new law," said Pollack.
To obtain a transcript of the video and a list of the cities in the first wave of the Medicare Road Show, log on to www.familiesusa.org. The first local event will take place on March 5, in Miami, and will be a bilingual event.