LeBron James has promoted Nike, Samsung, and Dr. Dre's headphones. Is government-mandated health insurance next on the list?
The White House has asked the NBA if it would be interested in teaming up to promote the Affordable Care Act, according to Politico, though specific details of the plan have not been made public.
The NBA wouldn't comment on it, saying through a spokesman, "We have nothing to announce at this time." And the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said only that it was "speaking with a wide range of potential partners and organizations about our efforts to inform Americans of the opportunity to enroll in quality, affordable coverage."
But just imagine the possibilities.
Politico heard of the plan from Massachusetts health officials who have reportedly been in talks with the administration about how to inform Americans about their health insurance options under the ACA. Massachusetts, which implemented its own health insurance mandate in 2006, teamed up in 2007 with the Red Sox to help raise awareness for the law there.
In announcing that plan, state officials said they hoped to "utilize the great marketing muscle and megaphone of the Boston Red Sox and New England Sports Network (NESN) to help reach uninsured individuals and provide them with information about the new, more affordable plans that offer more choice than ever before."
That partnership was not about convincing residents to like the law, but rather about letting them know how to get coverage. The team installed an informational kiosk at Fenway Park, and ran ads before games and in team programs starring well-known players.
Here's one of those ads, flagged by The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn, featuring former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield:
With the NBA, the White House would presumably take the same marketing strategy nationwide. But why the NBA, ranked by one poll as the nation's fifth-most popular sport, and not, say, the NFL?
As Politico's Kyle Cheney noted, the league's schedule, which starts in late October, coincides nicely with the six-month window Americans have to sign up for government-subsidized health insurance. People can for the first time begin enrolling in ObamaCare's health insurance exchange program starting in October.
The administration has already solicited donations for the nonprofit Enroll America, whose goal is to promote the law. The group announced plans to promote the law in 18 states. And Organizing for Action, President Obama's campaign-turned-advocacy group, has announced plans for a PR blitz of its own.