Department of Health and Human Services--Use of Appropriated Funds for Medicare Brochure
B-319834: Sep 9, 2010
- Full Report:
This opinion responds to a May 26, 2010 letter requesting GAO's opinion on whether the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) use of funds to prepare and distribute a brochure to Medicare beneficiaries violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010. The prohibition states that "[n]o part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used directly or indirectly, including by private contractor, for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress." The prohibition bans the use of appropriations for communications that are covert, self-aggrandizing, or purely partisan in nature. GAO concluded that HHS did not violate the prohibition. Although the HHS brochure contains instances in which HHS presented abbreviated information and a positive view of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that is not universally shared, nothing in the brochure constitutes communications that are purely partisan, self-aggrandizing, or covert. In addition, GAO points out some overstatements in the brochure of PPACA's benefits, such as where the brochure suggests that PPACA increases the number of primary care providers, when PPACA only provides incentives for such increases. In this legal opinion, GAO does not examine nor does GAO express a view on the overall economy, efficiency, or effectiveness of the brochure.