Senate GOP Discourages NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, PGA, NHL From Promoting Obamacare

Fred Lucas | June 28, 2013 | 4:38pm EDT
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(AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

( – Senate Republicans are discouraging the nation’s six top professional sports leagues from promoting enrollment in Obamacare in a letter to the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the Professional Golf Association and NASCAR.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) signed the letter to the head of each organization.

“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 letter said.

This comes after reports that Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is in talks with the NFL and other sports organizations in an effort to get them to help encourage people to enroll in new Obamacare health care exchanges that are set to begin Jan. 1, 2014.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas).  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“We have long been concerned by the Obama administration’s record of using the threat of policy retaliation to solicit support for its policies or to silence its critics,” the letter said. “Should the administration or its allies suggest that there will be any policy consequence for your decision not to participate in their outreach efforts, we urge you to resist any such pressure and to contact us immediately so that we may conduct appropriate oversight.”

McConnell and Cornyn did not know when major sports leagues’ had taken public sides on such highly polarizing political issues in the past.

“Yet given this administration’s public request of your assistance in promoting this unpopular law, we felt it important to provide you with a fuller accounting of the facts before you made such a decision,” the letter said.

“Just this week, a Gallup poll showed that a majority of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, and that for every one person who thinks he or she will benefit from it there are two others who believe it will harm their family’s health care,” the letter said. “This is one of the reasons Congress has largely held off in providing the Obama administration with the funding it has requested to promote Obamacare. It is also undoubtedly one of the reasons the administration is now approaching outside groups and organizations like your own to promote it instead.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama. (AP)

The letter went on to cite accounts of the Boston Red Sox helping to promote the Massachusetts health care plan, better known as Romneycare.

“Administration sources have cited the role of the Boston Red Sox in helping to encourage enrollment in the Massachusetts Connector in 2006 as a model for your participation. However, there are key differences between the Massachusetts experience and Obamacare that should inform your decision,” the letter reads.

“For example, the Massachusetts law was adopted by large bi-partisan majorities in a Democratic legislature and signed by a Republican governor. Obamacare was passed on a party-line vote, using extraordinary legislative gimmicks and widely ridiculed political favors to win passage,” states the letter.  “The Massachusetts law also enjoyed a significant degree of popular support after enactment while Obamacare remains deeply unpopular.”

“It is also worth noting that just this week, Democrats in the Massachusetts Assembly passed legislation seeking relief for their state from many of Obamacare’s most expensive mandates,” the letter says.

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