Payday: ‘Private Option’ Supporters Getting Thousands From Taxpayers

A design idea for the coming Obamacare vans.

A design idea for the coming Obamacare buses.

If you watch TV, listen to the radio, or use the internet in Arkansas, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard an advertisement promoting the “Arkansas Health Connector.” It’s very cleverly named and marketed, leaving many Arkansans unaware that the “health connector” is the Arkansas Obamacare insurance exchange. So, why all the ads?

Part of the implementation of Obamacare (the “Affordable Care Act”) is a massive, taxpayer-funded public relations offensive. The objective of the offensive appears to be two-fold: 1. Change public perception of the law (it’s vastly unpopular) and 2. Entice more folks to enroll in the program. It’s kind of like that saying in business, “Spend money to make money.” Except in this case it’s more like “Spend other people’s money to spend more of other people’s money.”

The federal government has recently been involved in talks with the NFL about the league promoting the flailing law. Earlier this week, Breitbart reported that actor Will Ferrell will produce a series of pro-Obamacare videos. And most appropriately, we’ve learned that Obamacare ads will be displayed on porta-potties! All of this to implement a law that is unfundable, unpopular, and unworkable.

How much taxpayer money is being spent in Arkansas to promote the law, and where? I’m glad you asked.

After half a dozen attempts to get a breakdown of advertising expenses from the Arkansas Insurance Department throughout last week, I resorted to filing a Freedom Of Information request on Thursday. (And remember: this is the more efficient, “business-like” version of the exchanges, according to legislative Republicans!)

I finally received a phone call from Heather Haywood, spokesperson for the Arkansas exchange, after filing the FOI request. She was very helpful once I found her, but it took four days to reach someone that would even attempt to answer my questions. I can only imagine how great the consumer experience will be!

The documents provided to me reflect all exchange advertising spending to date. The state has entered into a contract through May 2014 with Mangan-Holcomb Partners, a large Little Rock-based marketing firm. MHP will be executing the majority of the advertising campaign. The contract is valued at $4,297,196.22.

Here’s a breakdown of how the money will be spent:

  • Strategic Planning and Account Management: $107,500
  • Creative and Production: $368,000
  • Digital Media: $715,220
  • Public Relations: $319,400
  • Multicultural Marketing Consulting: $150,880
  • Travel: $7,500
  • Statewide Media: $2,628,696.22

A look deeper into the contract shows a more precise list of spending:

  • $60,000 will be spent on Pandora Online Radio ads
  • $24,000 will be spent on a “social media campaign”
  • $120,000 will be spent on “search engine marketing”
  • Under “Multicultural Marketing Consulting,” the only item listed is $150,880 for “consulting services”
  • The state will also have an iPhone app produced for the all-time low price of $26,465!

You can read the full contract here.

The contract also reveals that several groups who pushed for the “private option” version of Medicaid expansion are now receiving large checks from taxpayers for Obamacare advertising. Here’s a breakdown, with links to a sample of each group’s “private option” advocacy:

The FOI request also revealed a contract between the Insurance Department and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), a direct beneficiary of Medicaid expansion. That contract is valued at $1,469,450 and includes another slew of advertising expenses, as well as direct mail.

Last but not least, the documents reveal that the state is purchasing two vinyl wraps to be placed on white buses for a fee of $1765 per month. The total cost for the wraps, produced by On The Move Advertising, and rent is $23,594.02.

All of this spending only gets us through September of this year. Future spending has not been broken down by category yet, but Haywood tells me it will amount to an additional $3,798,750.00.

With all of the taxpayer money being spent wasted, I just hope the exchanges aren’t a third-world experience.


  1. Bob McCartney says:

    At least we know why we have to have the exchanges. Look at all the benefits for the chosen few. PePe Lewphew did not smell this bad.

  2. Vote against Obamacare in Arkansas

  3. I would say that rather than a “third-world experience” we can bring it closer to home: “Detroit here we come!”

  4. Timothy Simmons says:

    We need to be holding all the rino’s feet to the fire for voting yes on this against the will of the people !!!!!!!!

  5. Nice article! Great post about Payday: ‘Private Option’ Supporters Getting Thousands From Taxpayers! You put a nice twist to it. Well put Nic.


  1. [...] Read more at The Arkansas Project. [...]

  2. [...] we reported on the promotion of Obamacare in Arkansas using your tax dollars: roughly $4.3 million will be spent between now and September to advertise the unpopular health [...]

  3. [...] Taxpayers are spending millions to advertise Obamacare in Arkansas [...]

  4. [...] worry, Carter groupie and paid ‘private option’ spokesman Jason Tolbert was there to back up the [...]

  5. […] Through today, only the first phase of the two-phase MHP contract had been implemented — valued at approximately $4.3 million. An effort was undertaken, however, to stop the additional $4.5 million or so in federal grant […]

  6. […] state. Through Monday, only the first phase of the two-phase MHP contract had been implemented — valued at approximately $4.3 million. An effort was undertaken, however, to stop the additional $4.5 million or so in federal grant […]

  7. […] with in Arkansas. No extraordinarily expensive, obsolescent-upon-release insurance exchanges. No millions of dollars being wasted on advertising. (And I wouldn’t have anything to write about, which would no doubt please many Arkansas […]

  8. […] Some parts of the ad campaign raised red flags with Cline’s group and with lawmakers in Little Roc….  In addition to the thousands of dollars used for iPhone apps, bus wraps and pro-Obamacare tweets, the department also paid Mangan-Holcomb more than $150,000 for “multicultural marking consulting,” though the contract does not specify any particular use for the money aside from general “consulting services.” […]