Illinois gives FleishmanHillard $25.6m extension for Get Covered contract

Fleishman initially won the work to promote the state's health insurance marketplace, Get Covered Illinois, last year in a contract worth up to $35 million.

SPRINGFIELD, IL: The Illinois Department of Insurance has renewed its contract with FleishmanHillard, awarding the firm a contract extension worth nearly $25.6 million through April 2015.

Fleishman initially won the work to promote the state’s health insurance marketplace, Get Covered Illinois, last year in a contract worth up to $35 million. The state was criticized for the contract after media reports stated that its hourly rates "far exceeded contracts other states signed for similar work."

A joint statement from Fleishman, Compass Public Affairs, Conroy Media, Downtown Partners, Elemento, and Hawthorne Strategy Group said the team of firms on Get Covered Illinois is already working on the second year of the campaign.

"We are committed to working with the state of Illinois to enroll as many uninsured residents as possible in quality health coverage. Building on the team’s experience and successes from year one, we will extend the reach of our statewide, multicultural public education campaign," the firms said in a statement. "We value the opportunity to further establish Illinois’ culture of coverage to benefit all its residents."

According to a notice addendum on the state’s purchasing website, hourly rates include research, creative, and strategy at $282 per hour; digital, Web, interactive, and social media work at $270 per hour; account service and administration at $160 per hour; and production at $158 per hour.

The Associated Press reported that the contract has "tighter controls over who gets paid at the highest rate" than last year’s account, specifically that 16 individuals, as opposed to 68 last year, can bill at the highest hourly rate ($282 per hour). Five people can bill at the $270 hourly rate, down from 24 last year.

When asked about the AP’s report last June on the firm's hourly rates, Jose Munoz, CMO for Get Covered Illinois, said he does not know what other states pay and that in a "fair competitive process," FleishmanHillard came in with the lowest overall bid in the first year.

"When billings are all said and done we’re going to come in about $3 million under [budget] for the full year of the contract," said Munoz of last year's contract.

There was "a lot of learning" that happened in the first year of the healthcare exchange, said Munoz, adding that "we would have lost all of that" had year two started with a new agency.

Get Covered Illinois released its annual report this month, noting that 217,000 people signed up for insurance through the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace and that its paid media campaign garnered 1.7 billion impressions statewide. Open enrollment will begin on November 15.

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