Congress Questions HHS’ ObamaCare Public-Relations Campaign

By:  Brian Koenig
05/29/2012
       
Congress Questions HHS’ ObamaCare Public-Relations Campaign

 The Obama administration has come under fire after the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) hired a public relations firm to help restore the muddied reputation of the President’s controversial Affordable Care Act. The $20-million, taxpayer-funded contract was awarded to a PR firm called Porter Novelli, which helped launch the Agriculture Department’s renowned healthy food pyramid.

 The Obama administration has come under fire after the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) hired a public relations firm to help restore the muddied reputation of the President’s controversial Affordable Care Act. The $20-million, taxpayer-funded contract was awarded to a PR firm called Porter Novelli, which helped launch the Agriculture Department’s renowned healthy food pyramid.

The initiative, which was mandated by the ObamaCare law, is designed to “inform the American people about the many preventive benefits now available to those with Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” an HHS official stated. In effect, HHS officials will underscore an array of purported benefits that ObamaCare provides, such as “free” preventive services that require no co-pays or deductibles. The Washington Times detailed other marketing campaigns the Obama administration has launched to bolster the President’s controversial law:

The HHS ad blitz is part of a larger effort. Last year, the administration spent more than $1 million sending out postcards to small-business owners regarding Obamacare’s small-business tax credit, as only about 5 percent of those eligible are using it. Mr. Obama paid Ogilvy Public Relations $26 million in stimulus funds to spin his health care law, $18 million of which was used to create a “publicity center.”

HHS spent $19 million in 2010 to send out 40 million glossy brochures to Medicare beneficiaries about the health care law, parts of which the General Accounting Office conceded contained “overstatements” of the benefits and “a positive view… that is not universally shared.”

In 2010, the White House spent $3.6 million on TV ads featuring actor Andy Griffith claiming Medicare benefits would “stay the same” under the new law. The ad is misleading because 1 in 4 seniors in Medicare Advantage will have benefits cut. These are only the Obamacare PR campaigns that have leaked out, after the money was spent.

However, as The New American recently reported, critics are saying the administration’s latest PR thrust is nothing more than an election tool for Obama’s reelection campaign.

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Photo: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) (shown in photo questioning U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan and the Department of Homeland Security's acting Inspector General Charles K. Edwards on May 23, 2012) wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting specific details about how the PR funding will be allocated: AP Images

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