Medicare & Medicaid Services splits up research, comms accounts

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has decided to award its external research and communications activities under two separate contracts.

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has decided to award its external research and communications activities under two separate contracts.

CMS in the past had a single roster of PR agencies handle both research and outreach, but it decided in June to award two sets of contracts because of the magnitude of the work.

As recently as May, CMS had asked agencies to bid for both assignments under one RFP. But it soon realized that its public affairs work had grown drastically with the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act.

The RFP issued in May will now cover only research. The new RFP, covering outreach, will be issued next month.

A budget for the new business, which is for one year with four renewal options, has not yet been disclosed.

The budget for the research element is $25 million over five years.

Ketchum, Ogilvy PR, GCI Group, and Academy for Education Development are the incumbent agencies.

Research might include focus groups and message testing, while the communications efforts will center on educating beneficiaries of Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children's Health Insurance programs.

Selected agencies will lead large-scale national campaigns, as well as more targeted grassroots outreach, including media relations, advertising, and web and viral marketing.

Under its Indefinite Delivery/ Indefinite Quantity policy, CMS selects a handful of "preferred" agencies and will only hear pitches from them over the length of the contract.

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