Political insiders receive multi-million-dollar contract to promote ObamaCare in Illinois
Get Covered Illinois has been hit by two scandals in as many days. A recent Associated Press (AP) investigation into a $33 million federal grant to promote ObamaCare in Illinois revealed that “More than 90 people, including executives from the firm and its subcontractors, billed at least $270 an hour for salary and overhead during...
Get Covered Illinois has been hit by two scandals in as many days.
A recent Associated Press (AP) investigation into a $33 million federal grant to promote ObamaCare in Illinois revealed that “More than 90 people, including executives from the firm and its subcontractors, billed at least $270 an hour for salary and overhead during the first four months.” Not only do these hourly wage rates for public relations professionals seem excessive, but Illinois spent more on TV marketing and promotion than any other large state, according to the investigation.
On the heels of that story, Crain’s reported that a key subcontractor owned by three top Democrat strategists with close ties to Gov. Pat Quinn, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley were not only billing at $282 per hour, but were authorized to take direction directly from the Governor’s office under a special provision of its contract.
As is often the case when public dollars are spent with little oversight or transparency, results and efficacy become secondary concerns. Not only did the state fail to meet its own enrollment targets, according to the investigation, but this single grant makes up only a small part of the total grants the state received to implement and promote the president’s health insurance scheme.
According to federal records, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded the state of Illinois a total of $155 million in grants to implement and market ObamaCare in Illinois. While this money was spent in a number of areas, the total spending comes out to almost $700 per Illinoisan who selected a health insurance plan (but didn’t necessarily purchase one).
Even though there has still not been a full accounting of how, where or by whom these funds were spent, HHS is already doling out tens of millions more to states to promote enrollment in 2015. If Illinois bureaucrats cannot demonstrate that they have been good stewards of the funds to date – and these scandals do not generate any confidence that that is the case – should they be allowed to grab more?
The AP quotes Get Covered Illinois executive director Jennifer Koehler as saying “We’re making sure there are legitimate justifications for every expense. The federal government has been very generous to Illinois, but we want to make sure we’re getting the absolute best value for the taxpayers.” But short of an audit, there’s simply no way to tell.
Taxpayers deserve to know if state bureaucrats are spending these scarce resources wisely. Before Illinois politicians accept another dime of federal taxpayer dollars, there should be a full accounting of these funds. Without oversight and transparency, the opportunities for further shenanigans seem endless.