GOP Study Committee Leader Urges NBA, NFL To Not Promote ACA
On Thursday, the leader of the Republican Study Committee sent a letter to league commissioners at the National Basketball Association and the National Football League urging the organizations not to help promote the Affordable Care Act, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/27).
Earlier this week, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius confirmed that she has discussed ACA promotions with the NFL through paid advertising and partnerships. The agency also reportedly has contacted the NBA, and a spokesperson for Major League Baseball said the organization had been contacted.
The partnerships with major sports leagues are part of the Obama administration's strategy to get young, healthy individuals to enroll in the law's health insurance exchanges. Observers note that the participation of healthy young people is key to the success of the exchanges because they can offset higher-cost participants and help keep premiums down (California Healthline, 6/26).
In the letter, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) warned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA Commissioner David Stern that the ACA could negatively affect their fan base by raising health insurance premiums and discouraging hiring. He wrote, "I contend that the effects of this train wreck will have a devastating impact on your fans and business partners across the country." He added, "I would caution you against being coerced into doing [the Obama administration's] dirty work for them."
Scalise also asked the league commissioners if Sebelius has pushed the leagues to donate to groups "aiding in the promotion or implementation" of the law ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/27).
Mandy Cohen, a senior adviser at CMS, defended the administration's effort to reach out to pro sports leagues. She said that the partnerships are not about politics but are "about health and improving health." She noted, "There have been multiple stories in the paper about how the NFL struggles with their own internal players and making sure they have proper health coverage," adding, "So I think there's just an alignment of mission across the board."
State Officials Look to Local Sports Teams
A number of states are considering adopting a similar strategy of using sports teams to promote the exchanges and encourage young, healthy individuals to enroll, Politico reports.
According to Politico, Massachusetts was the first to use the idea in 2006 as the state prepared to launch its 2006 health reform law, which is considered to be a model for the ACA. After the state successfully teamed up with Boston Red Sox, officials have said they are considering a similar approach in the lead up to the ACA's full implementation.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has expressed interest in partnering with local sports teams to boost enrollment in the state's health insurance exchange. Mike Claffey -- a spokesperson for Quinn -- said, "The Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace is planning a robust outreach campaign leading up to the Oct. 1 start of open enrollment," adding, "[W]e definitely plan to reach out to the many popular home teams in Illinois and look for ways to magnify our message."
Meanwhile, exchange officials in Washington, D.C., have said they plan to ask local teams to help spread the word about enrollment. Richard Sorian -- director of communications for the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority -- in an email wrote, "D.C. is a very sports-oriented town with the Redskins, Nationals, Wizards, Mystics, United, Freedom [and] Capitals, so we would want to work with some or all to reach key audiences" (Millman, Politico, 6/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.