Updated information is coming in on the Obama administration’s $20 million deal to employ a public relations firm to promote Obamacare, which funds abortions and prompts rationing concerns, during the election season.
As LifeNews reported, the Health and Human Services Department signed a $20 million contract with a public-relations firm to promote Obamacare in a new multimedia ad campaign designed to educate the public about its supposed benefits. The ad campaign was a mandate included in the final health care law.
The PR firm Porter Novelli won the contract after a competitive bidding process, but a CNS News report indicates that firm is a Democratic one.
The public relations firm hired to conduct the PR campaign, Porter Novelli, is a global firm whose leadership team features former Obama campaign surrogate and Democratic operative Catherine “Kiki” McLean.
McLean appeared on television on behalf of the Obama campaign in 2008. She also worked as a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign as well as the presidential campaigns of former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).
The Obamacare law Democrats railroaded through Congress requires the federal government to fund an advertising campaign promoting it.
The $20-million taxpayer-funded public relations campaign is mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, an HHS official told CNSNews.com.
“Section 4004 of the Affordable Care Act required the department to conduct this effort as one way to encourage utilization of preventive benefits and services,” the official said.
“This public education campaign is part of our ongoing education efforts that will inform the American people about the steps they can take to prevent disease and illness and stay healthy.”
Section 4004 of the legislation requires HHS to conduct an “education and outreach campaign regarding preventive benefits,” using radio, television and online media in a campaign that, among other things, “explains the preventive services covered under health plans offered through [ObamaCare].”
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), ranking member of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to request detailed information about the $20 million taxpayer-funded campaign to promote President Obama’s health care spending law. This latest oversight request follows on the heels of a broader inquiry about public relations spending that Portman and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) sent HHS in February– to which HHS is one of only two agencies that have not yet responded.
“There is no justification for wasting $20 million in taxpayer dollars on an advertising blitz for the President’s health care spending law,” Portman said. “With Washington nearly $16 trillion dollars in debt, the American taxpayers should not be asked to fund ad campaigns defending a law that only deepens the spending hole we’re in.”
The new PR campaign comes one day after Notre Dame, Franciscan University of Steubenville, and dozens of Catholic hospitals and organizations filed a total of 12 lawsuits against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the Obama administration over the controversial HHS mandate.
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The lawsuit challenges the Obama administration’s unprecedented mandate that attacks the freedom to practice religion without government interference. Under the HHS mandate, employers must provide insurance coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs, as well as contraceptives and sterilization procedures.
Franciscan University maintains that the requirement to fund and facilitate such activities violates its core religious and moral convictions as a Catholic university.
“Franciscan University’s mission is and always has been to teach from the heart of the Church,” said University President Father Terence Henry, TOR. “The Obama administration’s mandate is a grave threat to our ability to carry out that mission. It makes it impossible for us to operate freely as a Catholic institution without overbearing and invasive governmental interference.”
Other plaintiffs are all Catholic organizations and include Catholic dioceses, schools, universities, and charitable organizations. Numbered among the plaintiffs are the Archdioceses of New York, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, as well as the Dioceses of Dallas, Ft. Worth, Rockville Centre, Pittsburgh, and the Michigan Catholic Conference, which represents all seven dioceses in the state.
“The Church is speaking with one unified voice on this issue,” said Father Henry. “Every single American bishop has condemned this unjust mandate as an unconscionable violation of religious liberty. If allowed to stand, it will coerce Christians into cooperating with acts that violate core tenets of our faith.”
When first proposed in August 2011 by the Department of Health and Human Services, the mandate was met by strong objections from numerous Catholic bishops, hospitals, and institutions. Although a small exemption for some religious institutions was written into the original proposal, it was too narrow to cover the vast majority of them, particularly those, like Catholic universities, which both employ and serve people of other faiths or no faith at all. The mandate effectively puts the federal government in the position of deciding which organizations are “religious enough,” the lawsuits claim.
In late January 2012, President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the mandate would go into force as originally planned, with no adequate accommodations made for individuals or groups who objected on religious grounds.
The University of Notre Dame said the requirement would still call on religious groups to “facilitate” coverage “for services that violate the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
“The federal mandate requires Notre Dame and similar religious organizations to provide in their insurance plans abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, which are contrary to Catholic teaching. It also authorizes the government to determine which organizations are sufficiently ‘religious’ to warrant an exemption from the requirement,” the statement said.