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June 16, 2014

Pricey PR buys little

They call it "Get Covered Illinois," but the state's campaign to get people to sign up for Obamacare should make taxpayers want to run for cover.

We knew the federal government gave Illinois $33 million for the promotion. An Associated Press analysis of the outlandish costs and the lackluster results is enough to make taxpayers sick.

Illinois paid the public relations firm FleishmanHillard at least $270 an hour for salary and overhead during the first four months of the contract, which runs until August. That's far more than other states. Connecticut, by comparison, had top rates on a similar contract of $175 an hour. Colorado had $120 per hour.

Illinois spent $37 per enrollee on TV ads, one of the highest rates in the nation. California spent $19 per enrollee and New York $10.

What's worse, all that spending didn't buy Illinois the results it wanted. More than 217,000 people signed up, which met the federal target, but that's nowhere near Illinois' goal of 337,000.

The state's top official for "Get Covered Illinois" said the state is scrutinizing all the bills: "The federal government has been very generous to Illinois, but we want to make sure we're getting the absolute best value for the taxpayers."

Best value? It's way too late for that.

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