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Washington, DC — December 7, 2011Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced it will host a panel discussion: “Justice Kagan, Obamacare and Recusal.” Panelists include Edward Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director to the Judicial Crisis Network; Ronald D. Rotunda, the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at Chapman University; and Russell Wheeler, Visiting Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings Institute.The panel will discuss whether Justice Elena Kagan should recuse herself from the pending Supreme Court case concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Tuesday, December 13
11 am — 12:30 pm ET
Judicial WatchMain Conference Room
Washington, DC 20024

Confirmed Panelists:

Edward Whelan, President, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director, Judicial Crisis Network

Ronald D. Rotunda, Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, Chapman University

Russell Wheeler, Visiting Fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings Institution

Moderator:

Tom Fitton, President, Judicial Watch

The event will be broadcast live at https://www.judicialwatch.org/live

*(near NASA headquarters, one block from Federal Center Southwest Metro Station)

A mult box will be available.

Obama HHS Spends Millions of Taxpayer Dollars on “Guerrilla Campaign” to Track Search Engine Web Traffic and Push Internet Search Engine Users to Government Website Promoting Obamacare; Propaganda Campaign Targets Key Obama Campaign Voter Demographics

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Washington, DC — August 18, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it obtained documents from the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showing that the Obama White House helped coordinate a multimillion dollar taxpayer-funded campaign to use Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo to drive web traffic to a government website promoting the Affordable Health Care Act (also known as Obamacare). The expressed purpose of this campaign is to increase public support for the president’s health care overhaul among key Obama campaign demographics, specifically Hispanics, blacks, and women.
The 2,328 pages of records, obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to a March 23, 2011, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 11-608)), include internal correspondence between officials at the HHS office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA), as well as communications with representatives from The Ogilvy Group, the public relations firm hired by the Obama administration to manage the Obamacare campaign. The following are highlights from the documents:

  • The Obama HHS launched a campaign to track Internet searches and to use online search engines such as Google and Yahoo to drive traffic to a government website promoting Obama’s healthcare overhaul. Using “pay-per-click” advertising tools, such as Google Adwords, HHS purposely targeted for influence people searching the term “Obamacare,” a word that has been described as “disparaging” by political agents of the president. One HHS email details:

    A few keyword groups continue to be top performers, and have subsequently driven most of the traffic to the campaign websites:

    • Affordable Care Act, including such terms as health care reform, government health insurance, Obamacare, and affordable care act.
    • Health Insurance Group, including terms as health insurance.
    • Health Care Group, including terms as health care.

    While other keyword groups have not performed as well, and are not driving significant traffic to the campaign websites:

    • Health Insurance, Health insurance options, Medical Insurance, and Insurance companies
  • According to a budget summary prepared by Ogilvy, from October 2010 through February 2011, the Obama administration spent $1,435,009 on these online advertisements alone, including advertising campaigns with Google and Yahoo, almost $300,000 per month.
  • According to a December 10, 2010, email from Margo Gillman, Senior VP of Ogilvy Public Relations to Jenny Backus, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and the Principal Deputy for Strategy and Planning for HHS, the Obama White House was involved in coordinating the HHS propaganda campaign:

    Just a quick note to see if you have any feedback/direction on how we should proceed with the radio and TV concepts that were presented a few weeks ago. You mentioned on our last call that you were planning to discuss them with the White House on either Friday or yesterday. We would appreciate any guidance that you can provide, so we can determine immediate next steps and a production schedule. Also, we are awaiting your feedback on the overarching strategic campaign plan.

    Another HHS internal email dated December 1, 2010, from then-HHS official Jaime Mulligan to agency colleagues references the need to present recommendations to the White House regarding a number of components of the Obamacare campaign, including “a big guerilla campaign splash…” (Mulligan is currently the White House New Media Analyst for Public Health.)

  • A number of documents address the need to target the Obamacare propaganda campaign to Hispanics, blacks, and women. For example, according to an email from Chris Beakey, Vice President of Ogilvy PR Worldwide, to HHS officials on December 16, 2010, summarizing a conference call, “You want to utilize the bulk of their paid media efforts (which would include expenditures for Radio One and Univision) on media that reaches African Americans and Hispanics. The money will go farther and these audiences continue to be a top priority.” A January 18, 2011, email from Ogilvy to HHS New Media Communications Director Julia Eisman notes with respect to a Spanish banner ad campaign, “I realize we really can’t use the blond mom and child for this audience.”
  • An October 25, 2010, email from Julia Eisman to Imani Green, Senior Vice President and Director of Paid Media for Ogilvy Washington suggests changing the online advertising campaign to accommodate web traffic patterns caused by the mid-term elections: “Given the high performance, we’re wondering if we should we consider reallocating resources from the lesser performing words and put more $$ to ‘Obamacare’ – at least for the next 7 days,” she suggests.

In previous documents uncovered by Judicial Watch, HHS describes in detail the key to success of the propaganda campaign in a “Statement of Work” accompanying the agency’s Acquisition Plan: “Health and program-related messages are processed by the target audience according to a particular reality, which he or she experiences. Attitudes, feelings, values, needs, desires, behaviors and beliefs all play a part in the individual’s decision to accept information and make a behavioral change.” [Emphasis added.] These documents suggest the total cost of the Obamacare propaganda campaign could reach as much as $200 million.“The Obama administration is using taxpayer dollars to manipulate public opinion regarding his socialist healthcare overhaul while also trying to get a leg up in the 2012 presidential campaign,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American people should be disturbed that the Obama administration is using taxpayer funds to try to brainwash people simply searching the Internet for information on health care. This Big Brother campaign is underhanded, potentially unlawful, and it must be stopped. As the congressional ‘super-committee’ begins negotiations to cut the deficit, this wasteful Obamacare propaganda campaign is the first place they should look.”

Documents Uncovered

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) detailing the agency’s massive taxpayer-funded multimedia campaign designed to promote the Affordable Health Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and other HHS policy initiatives. According to the records obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to a March 23, 2011, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 11-608)), the total cost of the campaign, which targets Obama’s electoral coalition, could reach as much as $200 million.

Among the highlights from the documents:

  • An April 27, 2010 Department of Health and Human Services Acquisition Plan entitled “National Multimedia & Education Campaign & Grassroots Outreach,” details a comprehensive five-year communications program covering a variety of HHS policy initiatives, including “health care reform.”
  • According to a section of the Acquisition Plan entitled, “Independent Government Cost Estimate,” the Health and Human Services ASPA (Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs) states: “ASPA is unable to provide a definitive government cost estimate. Campaigns vary is [sic] size and scope. Some campaigns involve radio, some TV, and some print. Other campaigns may involve all of those avenues plus on ground events, website, bus tours, etc.” However, ASPA “is letting this contract in order produce three to four campaigns per year through the life-cycle of the contract. We are requesting a contract with a $200,000,000 maximum.”
  • According to a subsequent March 14, 2011, contract included among the documents, HHS hired The Ogilvy Group “to provide services to design, develop, and execute a multiplatform educational media campaign to promote the new website Healthcare.gov, including the new Spanish language version of the website.” The total amount of the contract award: $3,998,928.
  • The Ogilvy contract “task order” describes the purpose of the Healthcare.gov website: “To accompany such a monumental piece of legislation (The Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare), the law charged the Department of Health and Human Services with the creation of a website to aide Americans about the health insurance coverage options available to them.” (U.S. Senator Charles Grassley has deemed the HHS online program “state-sponsored propaganda.”)
  • The Ogilvy contract also describes the “audiences” that will receive “targeted messaging” during the campaign: “Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Young People, Women/Mothers,” all considered key target demographics for the Obama reelection campaign.
  • According to the Ogilvy contract, HHS sought to receive “media training” in the following areas, among others: “controlling your message,” “handling hostile interviews,” “artful repetition,” “identifying loaded questions” and “being persuasive.”

HHS describes in detail the key to success of the propaganda campaign in the “Statement of Work” accompanying the Acquisition Plan: “Health and program-related messages are processed by the target audience according to a particular reality, which he or she experiences. Attitudes, feelings, values, needs, desires, behaviors and beliefs all play a part in the individual’s decision to accept information and make a behavioral change. It is by understanding the importance of these characteristics that health and program-related messages can be targeted to the beneficiary in effective ways.”

“There is nothing educational about this Obamacare propaganda campaign to force ‘behavioral changes’ on Americans. These records prove the administration is using taxpayer dollars to manipulate public opinion. It also appears the Obama administration is trying to get a leg-up in the reelection campaign by targeting key Obama constituencies with positive and misleading messages about the president’s ‘signature’ policy initiative,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This Big Brother campaign is most certainly underhanded, potentially unlawful, and it must be stopped. If Congress is looking for a place to trim the deficit, this is a good place to start.”

In November 2010, Judicial Watch obtained documents from the Obama HHS regarding a series of three Medicare television advertisements featuring actor Andy Griffith. The Obama Administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air the advertisements on national television in September and October 2010 to educate “Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and family members about forthcoming changes to Medicare as a result of the Affordable Care Act.” However, according to FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, the advertisements intentionally misinformed the American people.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the controversial review of the prostate cancer treatment Provenge by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Judicial Watch obtained the documents pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on January 3, 2011 (Judicial Watch v. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 11-0002)).

According to the documents, the purpose of this review, deemed a National Coverage Determination (NCD), is to determine if the FDA-approved Provenge treatment is “reasonable and necessary” and should therefore be reimbursed on a uniform and national level. The review was triggered by the fact that local Medicare contractors were not uniformly providing coverage for Provenge leading to multiple complaints by patients. Some contractors withdrew coverage in the middle of treatment. CMS is expected to post a “proposed decision” on its website March 30, 2011, with a final decision published 60 days after the public comment period for the proposed decision has ended.

Among the highlights from the documents uncovered by Judicial Watch:

  • The documents include a CMS Q&A sheet that denies cost was a factor in the decision to review Provenge. However, a June 8, 2010, internal email uncovered by Judicial Watch from William D. Rogers, Director of the CMS Physicians Regulatory Issues Team, to Louis B. Jacques, CMS Director, Coverage Analysis Group, states: “We discussed this on the last CMD [Contract Medical Director] call. $93,000 per treatment adds four months to life, 27,000 patients a year $2.6 billion dollars a year.” Medicare and the FDA are legally prohibited from denying approval of a medical treatment based solely on cost. Obama administration officials have denied that the review of Provenge had anything to do with the treatment’s costs.
  • A July 28, 2010, letter to Louis Jacques from Hans Bishop, Chief Operating Officer of Dendreon, the company that manufactures Provenge, and Mark Frohlich, Dendreon’s Chief Medical Officer, objecting to the “highly unusual” review of Provenge.

    While noting the “overwhelming clinical evidence” of Provenge’s effectiveness, and the FDA’s rigorous approval process, Dendreon asked the CMS to shut down the NDA: “We remind you that the patients we serve have late-stage cancer and few, if any, appealing treatment options available to them, with only chemotherapy as an FDA-approved alternative. Not only is Provenge clearly reasonable and necessary…but it provides an unambiguous survival benefit and real hope for patients battling their disease.” Dendreon argued to keep the system’s status quo, with local contractors making coverage decisions as coverage variations have “subsided.” The letter also suggests that coverage is required by law as a result of the FDA’s prior approval of the Provenge treatment for prostate cancer.

  • An internal CMS email indicating that the government hired health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield, identified in public documents as an “external entity,” to conduct a technological assessment of Provenge’s clinical effectiveness. The involvement of Blue Cross Blue Shield raises concerns about a potential conflict of interest as private insurers use Medicare’s coverage determinations in setting their own coverage limits.

  • The documents include back-and-forth discussions between CMS and Dendreon about “comparative effectiveness.” In response to Dendreon’s request for clarification regarding the term “comparative effectiveness,” Jacque’s writes in a July 22, 2010, email to a CMS colleague: “Why do they need clarification?…We need to maintain an arms [sic] length relationship with them. We do no[t] owe them any questions.” Many have criticized comparative effectiveness research as a method to limit needed health care in order to reduce costs (i.e., death panels).

A number of the documents were distributed to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, dubbed “Death Panel Donald” for his public comments endorsing health care rationing.

“Clearly, there is enormous public interest in the CMS decision to review Provenge given all of the talk of health care rationing and death panels associated with Obamacare. The American people get very nervous when the government decides to meddle in their health care and they have every right to be nervous given that we have unaccountable czars like Donald Berwick running Medicare and Medicaid. One can’t help but conclude from a review of these documents that there is a strong bias against Provenge in the Obamacare bureaucracy,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

A recent study shows that in 2010, only two of the 11 National Coverage Determinations led to “unrestricted positive coverage decisions.” The remaining decisions mandated restrictions of coverage of one type or another.

Documents Uncovered

Lawsuit Marks One Year Anniversary of Obamacare Bill Signing; Previous Documents Uncovered by Judicial Watch Indicate HHS Spent Millions on “Misleading” Obamacare Advertisements Featuring Actor Andy Griffith

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Washington, DC — March 24, 2011Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to obtain records related to the creation and funding of advertisements pushing the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Case No. 11-608)). Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on March 23, 2011, which marked the one year anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law.On December 15, 2010, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with HHS seeking the following information: “All records concerning the creation and/or funding of advertisements on the Affordable Care Act.” On December 17, 2010, Judicial Watch received confirmation from HHS that its request was received. Judicial Watch received additional confirmation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a component of HHS, on January 14, 2011. By law, a response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request was due no later than February 14, 2011. However, to date, no documents have been produced. Moreover, HHS has failed to indicate when a response is forthcoming.In November 2010, Judicial Watch separately obtained documents from the Obama Department of Health and Human Services regarding a series of three Medicare television advertisements featuring actor Andy Griffith. The Obama Administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air the advertisements on national television in September and October 2010 to educate “Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and family members about forthcoming changes to Medicare as a result of the Affordable Care Act.”However, according to FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, the advertisements intentionally misinform the American people:

Would the sheriff of Mayberry mislead you about Medicare? Alas, yes. In a new TV spot from the Obama administration, actor Andy Griffith, famous for his 1960s portrayal of the top law enforcement official in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., touts benefits of the new health care law. Griffith tells his fellow senior citizens, “like always, we’ll have our guaranteed [Medicare] benefits.” But the truth is that the new [Obamacare] law is guaranteed to result in benefit cuts for one class of Medicare beneficiaries — those in private Medicare Advantage plans.

“The first year of Obamacare has been marked by lies, secrecy, and contempt for the rule of law. In light of the millions of dollars we know the Obama administration spent on misleading Andy Griffith advertisements, American taxpayers deserve to know just how much of their money has been used to fund Obamacare propaganda,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Today the courts have put Obamacare in legal limbo and the last thing the Obama administration should be doing is using taxpayer dollars to run an Obamacare misinformation campaign.”

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