The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently awarded another contract to a public relations agency to promote the president’s health care law. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) hired Weber Shandwick to raise awareness about the state health insurance exchanges that will be run by the federal government. According to PR Week, the firm Weber Shandwick will be tasked with promoting “early awareness and foster(ing) engagement with consumers to help them learn more about coverage that they may be eligible for.” The contract is worth more than $3.1 million and runs through April 15, 2013, with an option to extend for another 12 months.
The announcement comes on the heels of a letter Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent to HHS on September 28, 2012, questioning the unlimited amount of grant money going to the states to establish the American Health Benefit Exchanges. In one example, California awarded Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide a $900,000 contract to tap popular American TV shows for product-placement featuring the health care law.
Earlier this year, CMS awarded the public relations firm Porter Novelli a $20 million contract to sell the health care law to the American public. The PR campaign was “intended to generate broad awareness of preventive benefits and encourage people to utilize them for better health,” amid record disapproval ratings.
In 2011, the public interest group Judicial Watch obtained HHS documents via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit detailing the Obama Administration’s efforts to “coordinate a multimillion dollar taxpayer-funded campaign to use Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo to drive web traffic to a government website promoting the Affordable Health Care Act. The expressed purpose of this campaign is to increase public support for the president’s health care overhaul among key Obama campaign demographics.”
In 2010, the Obama Administration spent over $1 million sending out 4 million postcards to small businesses advertising the Small Business Tax Credit, even though the IRS knew that many of them would not qualify because of the strict eligibility criteria.
With our national debt over $16 trillion, the last thing the federal government should be spending tax dollars on is advertising to promote the president’s failed policies.
Staff Contact: For questions or further information contact Lisa Collins at 5-2045.