PR Firm Nabs Contract To Promote Health Insurance Exchanges
The Obama administration has awarded a contract worth about $8 million to public relations firm Weber Shandwick to promote the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
The federal government will be operating exchanges -- which are scheduled to open enrollment in October -- in 33 states, while 17 states will run their own marketplaces.
About the Contract
Weber Shandwick is tasked with raising awareness of the marketplaces through "a range of communications tactics, with an emphasis on paid media and digital outreach," according to an HHS official. The contract -- which can increase depending on the firm's performance -- is part of a larger outreach campaign by the department.
The contract comes after Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) last week said that ACA implementation could result in a "train wreck" if the public and small businesses are not adequately informed about the law.
Republicans have criticized the administration's spending on efforts to promote the ACA, including a $3.1 million agreement with Weber Shandwick in 2012 (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 4/19).
CMS Opens Grant Funding to Federal, Partnership Exchanges
In related news, CMS has announced that states with federal or partnership exchanges can apply for federal grants to fund their exchange marketing campaigns, CQ HealthBeat reports.
States that receive the funding will be required to use "federal messages" and language in their advertisements. For example, states must use the term "health insurance marketplace" rather than "exchange" and highlight that premiums can be lowered "right away" through tax credits.
A CMS spokesperson said a set of guidelines for states to apply for the money "will be posted soon" (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 4/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.