HHS quietly cancels contract with group to promote ObamaCare to recently released convicts

FILE: Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., at a news conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C.

FILE: Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., at a news conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C.  (AP)

The Dept. of Health and Human Services has quietly canceled a contract to a Chicago-based advocacy group that planned to promote ObamaCare benefits to recently paroled prisoners, after GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions wrote a letter to the agency in July questioning how the contract was funded.

The HHS awarded the no-bid contract to Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities in July in order to “increase insurance enrollment for… individuals involved in the criminal justice system,” but then quietly updated the solicitation’s status to “canceled” on its website, saying it would be re-issued.

In his letter, Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, questioned why the advocacy group was awarded a special contract to promote the health care law to recently released convicts when the government has already spent over $200 million on the Navigators program, which is supposed to help educate all Americans about the law and its benefits and help them sign up.

He asked if the contract was being funded separately from the Navigators program and if so, where the funds were coming from.

Sessions also questioned why the contract was awarded to the group without on a no-bid basis, without offering the chance for other groups to offer the same services for less money.

Senate Budget Committee Press Secretary Andrew Logan tells FoxNews.com the HHS had promised for weeks to send a formal response to Sessions’ letter, but has not yet done so. Logan says they found out the contract had been canceled by monitoring the solicitations page on the website for Federal Business Opportunities, which is a database of federal government contracting jobs.

Sessions said he is glad HHS has canceled the “unjustifiable” contract, saying it “never should have been awarded.”

“It defies common sense that the administration would create a special prisoner program in light of the millions spent already on the much-criticized Navigators program, which is said to serve all Americans. Who knows how many similar efforts are being undertaken that the public never finds out about?”

Sessions added that such examples prove the issues with ObamaCare go well beyond its glitch-plagued website.

“Problems like these are pervasive throughout the law and are just one reason why Congress should develop reforms that will actually reduce costs and protect patients and the taxpayers,” he said.

The ObamaCare Medicaid expansion provides that individuals under 138 percent of the poverty line will now be eligible for health coverage. Many recently released prisoners will be eligible for these benefits under the health care law based on income alone.

Additionally, under the law Medicaid now covers a set of treatments for mental illness and substance abuse, issues that are prevalent in prison populations.