KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

HHS $20 Million PR Contract Draws GOP Ire

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, sought additional information from Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor to criticize the arrangement.  

Roll Call: Rob Portman Seeks Answers On Health And Human Services Spending
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking for more information on a $20 million public relations contract to tout the president's health care law. Portman, the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, launched a broader inquiry earlier this year with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) asking 11 federal agencies to provide an accounting all "contracts for the acquisition of public relations, publicity, advertising, communications, or similar services" dating back to the fall of 2008, before President Barack Obama took office (Shiner, 5/22).

Politico: Mitch McConnell Rips Obama Ad Campaign
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the Obama administration on the Senate floor Tuesday for signing a $20 million contract for an advertising campaign to promote wellness benefits from the health reform law. This money is "$20 million of taxpayer money to promote a bill most Americans want to see repealed," McConnell (R-Ky.) said. "Let me suggest that the president spend a little more time trying to do something about the spending, debt and gas prices and a little less time trying to spin the unpopular things he's already done — it might require a little more work, but it's what we need" (Feder, 5/22).

In other news, Democratic Virginia Senate hopeful Tim Kaine offered some criticisms of his own aimed at Senate Democrats.

Politico: Kaine Calls For Tavenner Hearing
Virginia Senate hopeful Tim Kaine is blasting Senate Democrats for not planning a confirmation hearing for Marilyn Tavenner, President Barack Obama's nominee to run the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and a former top health official in his state (Haberkorn, 5/22).

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