Healthcare News & Insights

Popular TV shows to promote Affordable Care Act in California

Most hospital executives are interested in the election to see how it’ll affect the spending of healthcare dollars. But like most Americans, you’re probably tired of the constant bombardment of political commercials on TV. Well, get ready, because it’s going to get worse, especially in California.

Recently, the beautiful state of California hired a PR firm to promote the Affordable Care Act on hit TV shows such as “Modern Family,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Dr. Oz.” There’s even talk about doing a reality show based on the healthcare law.

Republican lawmakers, however, are up in arms about all of this.

Ogilvy Public Relations was the lucky firm that landed the $900,000 contract to pitch story lines involving the healthcare law to TV shows. The PR firm was hired by California’s insurance exchange — which, of course, was created by the healthcare law.

Taxpayer dollars

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) expressed their dissatisfaction with the contract in a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reported The Hill‘s “Healthwatch”. They questioned the Obama administration’s use of taxpayer dollars to pay for the contract.

In the letter, the politicians noted that unlimited money is flowing from HHS to establish American Health Benefit Exchanges with little or no restrictions and accountability. So far HHS has awarded more than $1 billion to 33 states for exchange planning and establishment.

“Americans’ hard-earned money should not be taken by government to subsidize Hollywood and insert propaganda into the popular culture,” wrote the lawmakers. “It should be going toward ensuring that the cost of health care is being lowered for all Americans.”

Silent on fund distribution

The Affordable Care Act doesn’t stipulate how funds are to be spent and gives HHS unlimited access to taxpayer dollars to fund the grants.

The politicians also scolded HHS for failing to provide guidance to states on how to use the money.

Grassley and Upton, who lead the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called upon HHS to start tracking how states are using these grants and to publish a list of contracts the exchanges have initiated.

We’ll keep you posted on the outcome of all of this — or you can just turn on your TV and start watching.

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