HHS Trying to Shield Obamacare Outreach Funds from Sequester

by Andrew Johnson

Tough luck for the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Public Health Service: Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said this afternoon her department has shifted its budget around especially to ensure that Obamacare outreach is not impacted by the sequester’s budget cuts. Most notably, Sebelius said traveling funds necessary for HHS officials to promote the law have been kept intact, explaining that such spending is “a critical part of bringing attention” to the law’s health-care marketplaces and therefore shouldn’t be affected by $15.5 billion reduction to the agency’s budget.

“This has been a significant priority area so we’re finding ways to limit other kinds of administrative costs [like] fewer conferences, looking at printing costs and other areas,” she said, according to the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff. Sebelius admitted, though, that the cuts make traveling “more complicated.”

Sebelius also explained she believes Obamacare deserves the kind of marketing budget accorded a new Apple product or a summer blockbuster. “We’d love to have the money a movie studio has when its about to launch a new hit,” she said. (Such an effort for a major movie, by the way, could normally cost a studio $100 or $200 million — Obamacare’s outreach budget is likely to exceed that number easily.)

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