NFL brass make a liar out of Sebelius
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said earlier in the week that the NFL and "a variety of sports affiliates" had been "very actively and enthusiastically engaged" in planning to promote Obamacare.
But according to the NFL, that's not entirely accurate.
GOP lawmakers sent a warning letter to the NFL office, telling them they would be making a mistake by joining with the administration in an effort to sell Obamacare. The NFL's response contradicted Sebelius, making it clear they want to steer clear of the controversy.
The top two Republicans in the Senate cautioned the league against teaming up for the project, saying in a letter Friday the NFL would "risk damaging" its nonpartisan reputation by getting involved in a highly divisive issue.
But Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications at the NFL, said in an email that the league has responded to letters they received from members of Congress.
"We currently have no plans to engage in this area and have had no substantive contact with the administration about (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's) implementation," McCarthy said.
The Obama administration is embarking on a major campaign to spread the word about the upcoming health care changes. It launched a website on Monday and plans to roll out a series of educational efforts this summer before open enrollment for the marketplace exchanges begins on October 1-about a month after the start of the football season.
Sebelius had pointed to the example set by the Boston Red Sox, who paired up with the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2007 to urge residents to sign up for the state's health insurance plan. The team used television ads to get out the message, and Fenway Park hosted a health care kiosk at home games and held a themed health care night. They also included informational inserts in their programs.
"We know the Red Sox were incredibly effective in Massachusetts ... so it's a logical place to go," Sebelius told reporters Monday.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn advised the NFL that it would not be a smart move.
"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," they wrote in a letter.
I'm not sure I agree with the GOP strategy. Why not get out of the way, allow Obamacare to be implemented, and watch the fireworks? By appearing to obstruct implementation, Republicans risk the administration placing the blame for failure on them. They will argue it's not the law that's bad, it's those GOP meanies who are the cause of all the problems.
Few Americans understand how fundamentally Obamacare is going to change the health care system. It isn't just higher premiums, or mandated coverage, or the confusion and chaos that is going to result. The devil is in the details and it may take a year or two for the worst of the law to become visible to most. The long waits for routine doctor appointments, the rationing, the interference by the government in the doctor-patient relationship - all this and more won't become apparent until people actually use health care services.
Eventually, the state insurance exchanges will start functioning, insurance rates won't rise as much, and some of the uninsured - under the watchful eye of the IRS - will become insured. This will be touted as a success by supporters of Obamacare, despite the massive changes that will take place elsewhere. All of this will take place against the backdrop of the 2016 presidential election where repeal of Obamacare will be the number one issue on the agenda.