A trio of additional healthcare projects of the Obama Administration are slated to be administered by a handful of private-sector vendors at a cost of nearly $1 billion—initiatives that contractors will carry out in Africa, Asia/Middle East and the Latin America/Caribbean regions.
According to contracting documents that U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor located through routine federal database research, the largest of the three health care packages (solicitation #SOL-OAA-11-000021) is the $500 million plan for Africa.
The Asia/Middle East plan will receive $300 million (solicitation # SOL-OAA-11-000022), while $100 million will go toward programs in Latin America and The Caribbean (solicitation #SOL-OAA-11-000020).
This nearly billion-dollar combination of foreign healthcare aid comes at a time when debate over implementation of domestic Obamacare is brewing to a boil.
In addition to continuing concerns over the financial burden of the law’s requirements, compliance waivers granted to select companies have come under congressional scrutiny.
A subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for example, last month held hearings on the matter, questioning the legal authority of the Secretary for Health and Human Services to grant such waivers.
Similarly, Crossroads GPS—an organization affiliated with former Bush Administration Chief of Staff Karl Rove—is suing the Obama Administration for allegedly failing to comply with Freedom of Information Act request for data on the waivers.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which added the “population, health, and nutrition technical assistance and support” solicitations to the federal business opportunities system yon April 20 and April 21, respectively, will grant four contracts for each region over the next five years.
USAID, in an official justification for the endeavors, pointed out that for the past forty years the agency “has worked to improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world through its global programs in family planning and reproductive health, infectious disease prevention and control, child survival, maternal health, and other life-saving areas.
“In FY 2007, the US Department of State and USAID established the Foreign Assistance Standardized Program Structure that included the goal to ‘Help nations achieve sustainable improvements in the well-being and productivity of their populations through effective and accountable investments in education, health, and other social services.’
USAID additionally will devote $60 million toward communications and information technology acquisitions in further support of the global health plan. Solicitation # SOL-OAA-11-000018. Tasks under that segment include computer system design and infrastructure management.
The communications and IT plan also entails and what USAID describes as “health communication services.”
Those services specifically would require the contractor to:
- Provide support, including but not limited to editing and publishing services, to the production of health reports and other related publications
- Create strategy for internet publishing and broadcasting for health programs and provide support for the implementation plan.
- In collaboration with local partners, design, create, and maintain web portals for specific health interests
- Coordinate, design and implement a strategy that utilize social media and mobile communication technology for the promotion of healthy behaviors
- Media and public relations services for local government and other local partners to support the promotion of health services and healthy behaviors.
The price tag for a separate but corollary initiative titled African Strategies for Health—whose goal is to “identify policy and implementation constraints” and to devise strategies for overcoming hurdles to further investments in Africa—was not revealed.
Estimated costs for that segment “will be determined at time of award” granted to the winning bidder, the draft Request for Proposals says in that solicitation (#M-OAA-GRO-EGAS-11-0001).
The USAID Global Health Bureau says it is embarking upon this ambitious plan in support of the U.S. government’s Investing in People program area. Elements of that program include AIDS/HIV and tuberculosis reduction, support of the President’s Malaria Initiative, limiting the spread of avian flu in animals, and increasing “the availability and use of proven life-saving interventions” for mothers and children.
Among other support areas is the targeted expansion of access to voluntary family planning services and information—plus what USAID characterize as “reproductive health care,” a program element that “contributes to reducing unintended pregnancy and promoting healthy reproductive behaviors of men and women, reducing abortion, and reducing maternal and child mortality and morbidity.”