‘Obamacare’ has just been sacked.

In a blow to the Obama administration’s latest push to promote its new health care law, the National Football League has backed away from a request to take part in an aggressive advertising campaign.

This, despite public assurances last week by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the administration has “enthusiastically engaged” the NFL, and that “they see health promotion as a good thing for them and for the country.”

Instead, an NFL spokesman at the end of last week sent an email to several news outlets saying the league has “no plans” to work with the administration on educating the public about the Affordable Care Act or to help recruit people to enroll in the state-based health insurance exchanges created by the new law.

The league’s response came following receipt of a letter sent last week by two Republican Senators warning that the NFL could undermine its nonpartisan reputation by getting involved in an issue marked by “divisiveness and persistent unpopularity.”

“It is difficult to understand why an organization like yours would risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand by lending its name to (the ACA’s) promotion,” Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to six major sports organizations, including the NFL and Major League Baseball.

The administration has been attempting to recruit the professional sports leagues to help with an all-out promotional campaign this summer to educate the public about the benefits of the ACA and the state-based online exchanges. Acknowledging the challenges to getting a sufficient number of people to sign up for health insurance online, Sebelius said at a press conference last week that, “The most daunting aspect is that people still don’t know enough about what’s going to change in the law and don’t have enough information — still have some misinformation.”

Having star athletes tout the virtues of health insurance could play a key role in signing up more young and healthy people on the exchanges. That is seen as critical, if the ACA is going to succeed. Without large numbers of healthy people participating in the online marketplaces, chances are only the aged and chronically ill will likely enroll — which would drive up medical costs and premiums and encourage insurers to abandon the exchanges.

Sebelius had pointed to the example set by the Boston Red Sox, who worked with the state government of Massachusetts in 2007 to urge residents to sign up for the state’s health insurance plan. “We know the Red Sox were incredibly effective in Massachusetts … so it’s a logical place to go,” Sebelius said at last week’s press conference.

But McConnell and Cornyn argued that what took place in Massachusetts six years ago was very different from what is occurring with the ACA today.

“For example, the Massachusetts law was adopted by large bi-partisan majorities in a Democratic legislature and signed by a Republican governor,” their letter stated. “’Obamacare’ was passed on a party-line vote, using extraordinary legislative gimmicks and widely ridiculed political favors to win passage.”

Kass, a freelancer, writes for the HIX website, a SourceMedia publication.


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