By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog
TALLAHASSEE – In order for the Affordable Care Act to work, millions of young healthy people need to play ball. That is, they need to enroll in state health insurance exchanges and pay up.
But a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 77 percent of Americans know very little or nothing at all about the exchanges. That does not bode well for the Obama Administration considering enrollment begins in three months.
What’s more, healthy consumers are finding out that their individual policy rates are set to double or even triple under the new law, according to a Wall Street Journal report released Monday.
So to combat the challenge of convincing healthy people to sign up for huge premium increases for coverage they may not need, the Administration is embarking on a massive public relations campaign.
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced last week that the federal government has reached out to several professional sports leagues to help promote Obamacare, including the National Basketball Association and the National Football League.
Since young healthy people often like sports, the reasoning goes, advertising the government program in association with sports leagues will persuade healthy people to participate.
“The NFL is enthusiastically engaged,” Sebelius told reporters June 24. “We are having active discussions with a variety of sports affiliates with paid advertising and partnerships,” Sebelius said.
But that game-plan appears to be in trouble.
Last Thursday top Senate Republicans reminded sports commissioners that many Americans don’t like Obamacare and endorsing it would almost certainly cause backlash.
“Given the divisiveness and persistent unpopularity of the health care [law], it is difficult to understand why an organization like yours would risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand by lending its name to its promotion,” the wrote Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas.
The Senators addressed their remarks to the commissioners of the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Professional Golf Association and the chairman and chief executive officer of NASCAR.
Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise also sent a formal letter to the NFL and NBA inquiring about details of a possible working arrangement with the Department of Health and Human Services. The letter presses for specifics as to whether the Administration has solicited funds or in-kind services from the leagues – a potential violation of federal law.
Now, the NFL is acknowledging it will not participate in the marketing of Obamacare.
In a recent email to Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote:
We have responded to the letters we received from members of Congress to inform them we currently have no plans to engage in this area and have had no substantive contact with the administration about PPACA’s implementation.
Other sports leagues have yet to comment.
The Administration has set aside $453 million of health related funding this year for promotional purposes.