NFL punts on Obamacare as officials draw up enrollment game plan

President Obama welcomed the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens football team at the White House last month. But the NFL doesn't appear interested in the federal healthcare law.
(Rob Carr / Getty Images)

The National Football League is taking a pass on promoting Obamacare.

Federal and state officials across the country are looking to spread the word about enrollment starting in October for new health insurance exchanges under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Enlisting some well-known gridiron stars to tout the healthcare law’s benefits was one potential idea raised last week by the Obama administration. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the NFL was “enthusiastically engaged” in talks about promoting the healthcare law.

But a spokesman for the NFL doused that idea, saying it currently has “no plans to engage in this area.”


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That followed letters sent to the NFL and other professional sports leagues from two top Senate Republicans warning them about getting involved with the controversial effort.

“Given the divisiveness and persistent unpopularity of the bill, 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,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.), and Minority Whip John Cornyn, (R-Texas), wrote last week.

Marketing tie-ins with sports leagues are an attractive idea after the Massachusetts health-insurance exchange worked with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 to promote that state’s expansion of health coverage.

Officials at Covered California, the state’s health exchange, are planning to launch their marketing blitz this summer ahead of open enrollment starting Oct. 1. State officials have previously discussed promotions with recreational soccer leagues, partly to educate young Latino men about signing up for coverage, in addition to other advertising.



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