By Elise Viebeck - 06/27/13 07:25 PM EDT
The head of the conservative Republican Study Committee pressed the NBA and the NFL on Thursday not to promote President Obama's healthcare law.
In a letter to league commissioners, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) asked for details on recent talks between the NBA, the NFL and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Sebelius announced this week that she's negotiating with sports affiliates about paid advertising and efforts to encourage enrollment under ObamaCare.
Scalise argued that sports teams should not endorse the healthcare law because it could raise premiums on some patients and discourage hiring.
"I would caution you against being coerced into doing [the Obama administration's] dirty work for them," Scalise said.
Partnerships with major sports leagues are part of the Obama administration's strategy for selling ObamaCare to the public, and it's possible that Hollywood stars might also be involved.
Starting on Oct. 1, uninsured people will be able to shop for coverage on the new insurance exchanges, and many will be eligible for tax credits to purchase their plans. Polls have shown that few people understand these benefits, however, and high-profile spokesmen could help address that knowledge gap.
Republicans in Congress continue to oppose the healthcare law, and they criticize Sebelius as overly aggressive in pushing outside groups to promote it.
In his letter, Scalise asked if Sebelius had pushed the NBA or the NFL to donate to groups "aiding in the promotion or implementation" of healthcare reform. This suggestion points to Sebelius's fundraising calls on behalf of Enroll America, a group working to enroll the uninsured in ObamaCare.
Republicans have called her effort an abuse of power. HHS argues the moves were legal, and that Sebelius only made two phone calls.