GOP senators warn NFL, NBA against promoting ObamaCare

GOP senators warn NFL, NBA against promoting ObamaCare

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellJohnson becomes fourth GOP senator unwilling to proceed on healthcare bill Five takeaways from the CBO score on Senate ObamaCare bill Murkowski: I don't have enough information to vote in favor of healthcare bill MORE (R-Ky.) and Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate adds penalty for going uninsured to healthcare bill The Hill's 12:30 Report Cornyn: GOP won't delay ObamaCare repeal vote MORE (R-Texas) warned six professional sports leagues on Friday not to promote ObamaCare or partner with the Obama administration on efforts concerning the law. 

In letters to the leagues released Friday, McConnell and Cornyn cited an announcement by federal Health Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusAligning clinical and community resources improves health Sebelius on GOP healthcare plan: 'I'm not sure what the goal is here' Obama's health secretary to be first female president of American University MORE that she is in talks with the NFL, the NBA and others about campaigns to educate the public about healthcare reform.

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.