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In an announcement made on Tuesday, Maryland’s Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown stated that the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and the state would partner up to help educate fans of the team about the state’s health insurance marketplace. Basically, the Ravens are going to help promote the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Maryland’s health insurance exchange will begin open enrollment on October 1st.
Earlier this summer, it was revealed that two Republican Senators had sent threatening letters to NFL headquarters advising the league not to help promote the new healthcare law. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decided that the league would not, as a whole, work with the Health and Human Services to provide educational items to football fans attending games. While Goodell said the league would not be involved, he did say that individual teams were free to work with the HHS if they desired.
After Tuesday’s announcement, Goodell was on CBS’ This Morning and had this to say:
These are decisions that I think each club’s got to make. We as a league decided not to do that but allow our clubs to enter into agreements where they feel it is to be beneficial. The Ravens have made that decision and we support them.”
This pretty much opens up the gates for other NFL teams to follow suit and provide promotional and educational materials at games and during broadcasts. Look for teams that are located in ‘Blue’ or ‘Purple’ states to make announcements shortly stating that they are working with HHS and/or the states to provide education to their fans. Lt. Gov. Brown made an excellent point why it is important that states reach NFL fans when he made his announcement on Tuesday:
Research shows that 71 percent of the uninsured population in Maryland have watched, attended or listened to a Ravens game in the past 12 months. The partnership will provide Maryland Health Connection with the opportunity to reach and engage fans while making them aware of the new opportunity they have for health coverage beginning this fall through the health insurance marketplace.”
Those numbers are probably similar across the country. The fact is, the NFL has a wide reach as it is the most popular sport in the country. Now that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sees that Goodell and the NFL will not interfere with individual teams providing public-awareness about the ACA, expect her to be on the phone with other teams. While Goodell did back away due to Republican pressure earlier this year, he is going to take a hands-off approach with what the teams decide to do on their own. With his statements Wednesday morning, he is basically telling clubs to do what they want. If you want to follow the Ravens’ lead, feel free. There will not be any discouragement from the league office.
Obviously, there was a general freakout coming from members of the Republican party, as Obamacare is universally hated amongst the GOP. Matt Barber, conservative radio host and columnist, stated that it was “another reason to root for the Denver Broncos Thurs. night.” And that is pretty much the common thread across conservative media. The fact is, like it or hate it, the ACA is now the law of the land. And with it being law, it is always a good thing to inform and educate your citizens about it, so they know how it affects them and what they need to do in the future to adhere to the law. The Ravens are acting in good faith to work with the state to provide some basic public education. For that, they should be praised.