A proposed $8.7 million TV advertising campaign to promote ObamaCare in the lead-up to a key launch date is being targeted by Sen. Marco Rubio, who calls the effort a “blatant misuse of federal dollars.”
The Florida Republican said Tuesday that such spending is “unconscionable,” considering the uncertainty of the law and urged the Department of Health and Human Services to halt the spending.
“Until critical questions can be answered regarding the availability and type of health insurance to be provided by ObamaCare, it is unconscionable to spend taxpayer dollars to promote and advertise ObamaCare plans that have yet to be finalized,” Rubio wrote in the Sept. 3 letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The agency did not return a request for comment late Tuesday.
Obama signed his signature health care proposal into law in March 2010.
However, the administration has more recently delayed implementing parts of the law, most notably the requirement for businesses to offer insurance to employers.
The administration has tried rigorously to promote the program over the past several months, knowing that its success depends largely on a large pool of customers. The start for people to sign up for insurance in so-called “exchanges” is Oct. 1.
This is not the first time such HHS-related efforts have been criticized.
In the spring, Sebelius asked charitable groups, businesses executives, churches and doctors to donate money to nonprofit organizations such as Enroll America to sign up uninsured Americans.
This raised questions about Sebelius asking for money from groups her agency might regulate and prompted a probe by the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The agency said a special section in the Public Health Services Act allows the secretary to solicit financial support for nonprofit organizations conducting public health work.
This summer, Sebelius purportedly asked the NFL to help promote insurance options under ObamaCare.
The most recent program would be administered through HHS’ Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The ads are expected to appear first in parts of Florida, Texas and Tennessee.