Porter, Weber retain lucrative Medicare education accounts

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has retained two agencies and hired a third to promote two Medicare initiatives. The contracts are worth $17 million combined.

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has retained two agencies and hired a third to promote two Medicare initiatives. The contracts are worth $17 million combined.

The federal agency, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, hired Porter Novelli to launch a national multimedia advertising and public education campaign to raise awareness of the upcoming Medicare annual enrollment period to beneficiaries and caregivers. The enrollment period will run from October 15 through December 7, said Brian Cook, director of the media relations group at CMS.

The one-year contract is worth more than $11 million. Porter will emphasize the improvements made to the Medicare program, including an annual wellness visit that does not require a co-payment, the preventive benefits that are free of cost-sharing, as well as that the enrollment period is earlier than in past years.

The deadline is important to consumers because once the open-enrollment period ends, beneficiaries cannot make changes to their Medicare plan until the following year, according to the federal agency.

Porter has managed the campaign for several years, records show.

To help the firm reach the Latino community, CMS has signed a $3 million, one-year pact with multicultural agency Sensis. The firm's education campaign will use a combination of radio, print, and online advertising, as well as earned media tactics, to raise awareness among Latino consumers, according to Carolina Fortin-Garcia, spokesperson for the CMS.

The two firms are also working together to educate consumers about preventative measures in the Affordable Care Act. Porter is providing mainstream outreach while Sensis is focusing on Hispanic audiences.

Neither firm returned a request for comment.

On a separate Medicare project, CMS gave Weber Shandwick a $3.4 million, one-year account to educate consumers about Medicare fraud and abuse, Cook said. The agency has worked on the campaign since 2010, records show.

Weber will educate seniors and caregivers on the importance of protecting their Medicare information. It will show senior citizens how to identify fraud and report it.

“It's terrific to continue our efforts to make the Medicare program stronger,” said Tim Ryan, MD at Weber's Sawyer Miller Advertising firm.  “We're not only excited about the creative work, but the social mission.”

Ryan's firm will work with Weber PR staffers to create an integrated effort, he said.

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