Obama’s White House Spent $77 Million To Advertise Obamacare Last Year

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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President Barack Obama’s White House spent $77 million on advertising and marketing Obamacare during the last few months of the administration, the New York Post reported Monday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded left-leaning public relations firm Weber Shandwick a $74.15 million contract for a “Health Insurance Exchange Public Education and Outreach Campaign” July 28, 2016.

Weber Shandwick, the business name for CMGRP, Inc., then received an additional $3.69 million Sept. 9, 2016, to continue promotion efforts. The contract with Weber Shandwick lasts a full year, from July 2016 to July 28, 2017, and while so far CMS has only spent about $77 million, contract award data shows the contract is worth $86,499,129.

The advertising campaign included $64 million to buy ad space for TV, digital and radio, $4 million was spent on production and creative development, a $5 million direct response marketing campaign, $2 million for strategy, $1.5 million to encourage small businesses to enroll on the exchange, and $1 million for branding, the New York Post reports.

Around 9.2 million Americans enrolled for healthcare in the most recent enrollment period which ended in early February, around 400,000 fewer than enrolled in the same period last year.

Weber Shandwick ran the public relations campaign for the first rollout of the Affordable Care Act exchange websites in 2013. The Department of Health and Human Services gave the company more than $40 million in contracts in 2013, The Hill reported at the time.

The initial Obamacare campaign targeted chronically uninsured populations, which Weber Shandwick divided into three categories: “Sick, Active and Worried,” “Healthy and Young” and “Passive and Unengaged.”

After President Donald Trump’s inauguration, HHS pulled “the most expensive” ads about Obamacare. “We aren’t going to continue spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars promoting a failed government program,” a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman told CNN in January.

“Once an assessment was made, we pulled back the most expensive and least efficient part of this massive ad campaign, which was set to run over the weekend.”

The spokesperson said the money saved not promoting Obamacare would be returned to the Department of the Treasury.

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