HHS Did Not Violate Federal Law For Medicare Ads, GAO SaysThe Hill Healthwatch: "The Department of Health and Human Services did not violate federal prohibitions on publicity and propaganda with its health reform advertising and technical assistance contracts, the Government Accountability Office said Tuesday. Two HHS television ads, however, 'overstate one of (the law's) benefits,' GAO writes in a letter to Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). The lawmakers requested the office's legal opinion about the ads and HHS's contracts with MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. Gruber was paid almost $400,000 for two contracts to estimate the coverage expansion and costs of the new law. While Gruber also testified before Congress and authored editorials in favor of the law during the time he was under contract, he did not do so at HHS's request, GAO said" (Pecquet, 10/19).
Congress Daily: "Government-sponsored ads using actor Andy Griffith to trumpet the benefits of health care reform did not violate federal law, the Government Accounting Office said today. The Department of Health and Human Services paid roughly $3.25 million to air the three ads featuring the TV actor, according to the GAO. In the ads, Griffith -- best known for his starring roles on 'The Andy Griffith Show' and 'Matlock' -- touted the benefits of the health care reform law, calling them 'music to my ears.' Issa had attacked the ads as "unlawful" in an August staff report that broadly criticized Democrats' use of federal funds for 'an unprecedented number of public relations and propaganda efforts'" (Marks, 10/19). This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.