In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA Commissioner David Stern, Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) today asked the commissioners of the NFL and NBA for details of their conversations with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week told reporters, “It’s clear that we’re having discussions, active discussions, right now with a variety of sports affiliates — both in terms of what will end up being paid advertising but hopefully some partnership efforts.”

The text of Rep. Scalise’s letter to Commissioners Goodell and Stern can be found below:

“It has recently come to my attention that your respective leagues have been approached by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) about plans to facilitate and cheer on the implementation of President Obama’s health care law, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  I am writing to learn more about the nature of your conversations with HHS and to alert you to the impact of this law on your fan base.  Considering the recent investigations into reports that Secretary Sebelius has blurred ethical lines by soliciting donations from businesses with matters before her agency in order to help promote components of PPACA, there is a disturbing pattern by the Obama Administration to inappropriately solicit support for their policies by entities that they oversee and regulate.

As you may know, one of the lead Senate architects of PPACA described its implementation as a “train wreck coming down.”  Two recent reports from the Government Accountability Office highlight this train wreck, describing missed deadlines, implementation delays, and programs that are far from ready.  I contend that the effects of this wreck will have a devastating impact on your fans and business partners across the country, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet in these difficult economic times.  Among other effects, this law limits job creation, increases health care costs, discourages business expansion, and restricts access to care.

A recent report shows that your fans and business partners in my state of Louisiana, home to the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, could face health insurance premium increases of as much as 56 percent. Families and small businesses who decline to purchase or offer government-approved health insurance will be forced to pay exorbitant taxes to the federal government, the likes of which our nation has never seen.

In light of these devastating realities and the recent investigation into actions by Secretary Sebelius to solicit privating funding for the implementation of PPACA, I would like you to provide answers to the following questions:

  1. Has the NFL or the NBA been asked by HHS to contribute funds or in-kind services to any third-party organization aiding in the promotion or implementation of PPACA? If so, please provide details.
  2. Has the NFL or the NBA been asked by HHS to encourage enrollment in the new health insurance exchanges or other aspects of PPACA? If so, please provide details.
  3. Given your previous and ongoing business with HHS and other federal agencies, do you find helping to promote the Obama Administration’s most important legislative priority a potential conflict of interest? Please provide details.

It’s clear that PPACA is not ready for prime time, as even the law’s proponents have recently admitted. Given the harmful impact on millions of your fans and the people of southeast Louisiana, couple with the Obama Administration’s failure to meet the deadlines established to stand up their own law, I would caution you against being coerced into doing their dirty work for them. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or if you’re uncomfortable responding in writing due to concerns about inappropriate or unwelcomed pressure from the Administration to cooperate with the implementation of PPACA.  I appreciate your prompt response.”

A PDF of the Scalise letter can be found here.