Healthcare

HHS seeks to spend $250M on campaign to ‘inspire hope’ on pandemic: report

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is looking to spend $250 million on a communications campaign aimed to “inspire hope” about the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reported Monday, citing an internal document. 

The department sent a number of communications firms a “performance work statement” laying out what work would be expected of the company that secures the bid, stating that the vast majority of the money will be spent from now until January, Politico reported

The HHS document reportedly states the goal of the contract is to “defeat despair and inspire hope,” share “best practices for businesses to operate in the new normal and instill confidence to return to work and restart the economy,” provide accurate health information and build a “coalition of spokespeople” around the U.S.

“By harnessing the power of traditional, digital and social media, the sports and entertainment industries, public health associations, and other creative partners to deliver important public health and economic information the administration can defeat despair, inspire hope and achieve national recovery,” the document reportedly states. 

The main part of the contract will apparently be creating public service advertisements. 

A personal familiar with the matter told Politico around 10 to 12 firms have expressed some amount of interest in the contract. Two firms that looked at the proposal said they didn’t end up pursuing the contract. 

The coronavirus has infected more than 6 million people and killed more than 183,000 in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Democrats have widely criticized the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus, including slamming a lack of federal coronavirus mitigation restrictions and the administration’s economic response. 

The winning contractor will work with the HHS’s assistant secretary for public affairs, according to Politico. The office is now headed by Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign alum. 

Caputo dismissed criticism from former Obama HHS officials over the plan. 

“If I want to take advice on how to do this, I won’t take it from people behind Healthcare.gov,” he said. 

A HHS official was not immediately available for comment when contacted by The Hill. 

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Department of Health and Human Services HHS

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