By Elise Viebeck - 06/28/13 07:00 PM EDT
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) warned six professional sports leagues on Friday not to promote ObamaCare or partner with the Obama administration on efforts concerning the law.
McConnell and Cornyn warned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his peers that launching such campaigns would damage their leagues' reputations.
"It is difficult for us to remember another occasion when [a] major sports league took public sides in such a highly polarized public debate," the lawmakers wrote.
"Given the divisiveness and persistent unpopularity of this 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."
The letter comes just after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, told the NFL and NBA not to do Sebelius's "dirty work."
It repeated common GOP criticisms of the Affordable Care Act — that the law will raise healthcare costs, for example. Democrats say these claims are overblown.
McConnell and Cornyn also warned the leagues not to follow the precedent of the Boston Red Sox, which promoted the Massachusetts healthcare overhaul.
The state reform was passed on a bipartisan basis, the lawmakers argued, while the federal one was not.
Sebelius and her colleagues are pulling out all the stops to promote the Affordable Care Act before Oct. 1, when enrollment begins in the new insurance exchanges.
Efforts to educate the public about the law could involve athletes and Hollywood stars.