By The Associated Press
CHICAGO - The campaign to promote President Barack Obama's health care law in his home state of Illinois has been one of the nation's costliest with a $33 million contract for work by high-priced public relations experts.
An Associated Press review of hundreds of pages of documents finds more than 90 people billed at least $270 an hour under a contract with few built-in restraints.
Illinois got a late start, and executives at the contractor, the PR agency FleishmanHillard, say that meant they needed to flood the assignment with their best people during the first months.
Jennifer Koehler, the top government official for Get Covered Illinois, says the state is making sure there are "legitimate justifications for every expense" submitted by the FleishmanHillard.
Increase seen in Illinois health plans for 2015
A spokesman says United Healthcare has filed an application to sell policies on the Illinois insurance marketplace that's a cornerstone of the nation's health care law.
United Healthcare spokesman Kevin Shermach said Thursday it's ''a first step'' that will help company officials make a final decision about participating. United Healthcare was absent from the marketplace this year.
Earlier Thursday, the Illinois Department of Insurance said 10 insurance carriers submitted 504 health plans for approval to be sold on the marketplace for coverage in 2015.
That's an increase compared to last year when eight insurance carriers offered 165 plans.