Congressmen threaten to subpoena healthcare PR RFP

A Porter Novelli contract worth nearly $20 million that was signed earlier this year is continuing to draw ire on Capitol Hill.

A Porter Novelli contract worth nearly $20 million that was signed earlier this year is continuing to draw ire on Capitol Hill.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hired the Omnicom firm in May to launch a national multimedia education campaign mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The contract was first reported on by PRWeek.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), along with Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA), said they are considering sending a subpoena to the Department of Health and Human Services for documents related to the contract.

They first requested the documents in May. They are giving HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her staff until October 31 to turn over the documents before they take action.

Coincidentally, HHS has yet to respond to PRWeek's request for the entire RFP as well. We also asked for the document in May.

The threat to subpoena comes four months after Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), introduced HR 5894, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Education and Outreach Campaign Repeal Act of 2012. The bill would eliminate Section 4004 of Obamacare, which provides for “education and outreach,” or advertising campaigns, about the law.

He cited PRWeek's article as the impetus for his bill, which is now being mulled over by the House Committee on Appropriations and House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“Spending millions of dollars promoting a bill that most Americans want to see repealed is wasteful and particularly irresponsible given our current fiscal crisis,” Flake said in a statement.

The GOP also expressed anger in response to a PRWeek article about CMS hiring Weber Shandwick to raise awareness about state healthcare insurance exchanges that will be run by the federal government.

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