Health Care Exchanges are one of the main tenants of health care reform. Each state is tasked with creating an "Exchange" through which residents can purchase health coverage within an organized and competitive marketplace. If a state does not establish an appropriate Exchange by January 1, 2014, health care reform requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to step in and provide a so-called "fallback" insurance exchange. Many states are not moving forward with their own Exchanges, so it is anticipated that the responsibility will largely fall onto the federal government. States have until November 16 to decide if they will run an Exchange on their own or rely on the federal government for Exchange operation.
Last week, the government awarded a $3.1 million contract to a public relations firm to raise awareness about the fallback exchange that the U.S. government will operate in states that do not create their own Exchanges. This contract does not relate to the establishment of the fallback exchange— it is merely for public relations relating to the exchange. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the contract is aimed at the "educational effort" to ensure access to quality, affordable health insurance.
Weber Shandwick, a New York based PR firm, is the recipient of the contract and was hired to promote early awareness and foster engagement with consumers to help them learn about potentially available coverage. The contract runs through April 2013 with the option for an additional renewal year.