White House to begin Obamacare March Madness Monday
March 16th, 2014
06:52 PM ET
7 months ago

White House to begin Obamacare March Madness Monday

Washington (CNN) - As hoop heads across the country prepare for the Big Dance, President Barack Obama's administration is banking on a new March Madness-focused campaign to help boost Obamacare enrollment.

To coincide with the start of NCAA basketball tournament, a White House official says the administration is launching an all-encompassing push around the annual basketball bonanza that will feature athletes, coaches, and others, in hopes of spurring more Americans to sign up for health care before the March 31 deadline.


According to the official, the effort starts in earnest Monday morning when Univision Radio's Locura Deportiva airs an interview with President Obama.

The White House is also set to release a "16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered Bracket," detailing the administration’s top reasons to get insured. The administration believes it can parlay the popularity of the President's bracket - a recent tradition that registered the most views of any blog on WhiteHouse.gov during 2013 - into tangible enrollments by updating the results of the ACA bracket based on the "winning" votes from online users.

From there, the White House will pitch basketball fans on all fronts - television, radio, digital, online, and social media - throughout the coming week.

The White House official told CNN many key players in the administration, including chief of staff Denis McDonough, senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, senior adviser Phil Schiliro, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will play prominent roles in the campaign.

ESPN Deportes network will air an interview with McDonough, who's already given interviews to sports talk radio stations to help pitch enrolling in the federal health care exchange, on its syndicated network of stations. Duncan and Schiliro will also call in to sports stations across the country to sell the merits of the law.

The White House luminaries - many of whom played basketball, most notably Duncan, who captained the Harvard team during his time there - will join a growing roster of basketball stars chipping in to help sell the ACA, including Magic Johnson, Alonzo Mourning and LeBron James.

James, the reigning back-to-back MVP in the NBA, cut a 30-second public service announcement for the administration that will air widely on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBAtv, in addition to during March Madness games. The ad from the two-time NBA champion of the Miami Heat is focused on persuading the “young invincibles” demographic - those who feel they don't need health insurance because of their age and general good health - to get covered.

"You never know when you might take a hit," James says in the TV spot.

On the social media front, a large chunk of the administration's effort will come from HHS. The department, via Healthcare.gov's Twitter and Facebook platforms, will promote enrollment through NCAA tournament graphics and other posts and paid promotions aimed at basketball fans. The administration official also says HHS plans on tasking Sebelius, a Kansas Jayhawks fan, with tweeting about the tournament's action.

The White House is also planning a coordinated effort with Gameplan4me.com. The administration touted the collaboration between the sites, athletes involved in the campaign and government officials as a unique partnership that meshes with the White House's overarching goal of encouraging young people to make healthy decisions, which includes signing up for insurance.

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    The Dude

    Has Obama forgot how most college students don't have 300.00 to 500.00 bucks laying around monthly to pay for health insurance. Our foreign policy is off the rails.The president should spend a lot more time mending European fences to deal with Russia who's pissing down the Presidents back.
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    Nope. It's just that Republicans refust to mention the fact that most college age students are under 25 and could still be covered their parents health insurance policies. It's just that Republicans refuse to mention the tax breaks that they can probably get that could bring the cost to less than $100 per month for students who are not covered.. In some cases, it could be as little $50 per month.

    March 17, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  2. Tampa Tim

    As one of the 275 million who kept my plan and my doctors, I have concluded that the Koch followers are brain dead.

    March 17, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  3. VEW2012

    Sounds like a great idea. the fact is currently over 12 million new people have health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

    March 17, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  4. liberal disease

    why sign up, wait until your sick then sign up

    March 17, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  5. liberal disease

    I use to like Lebron James and Magic Johnson...

    March 17, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. liberal disease

    talk about a desperation 3 pointer!!

    March 17, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. kasey

    Vew2012, wrong stats. The FACT is 4.2 million, or about 1/3 of what you're trying to claim. Try looking it up next time before you post. Or do you work for the White House and are trying to spread lies as a part of this new "push"?

    Meanwhile, wonder how many tax dollars are being spent on this campaign. Also, wonder why they're targeting a sporting event so hard. So sick of this asinine attempt to foist this poorly planned and poorly executed piece of junk on the public.

    March 17, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  8. Republiker

    Some people will believe anything.

    March 17, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    smith

    Going after the 18-26 crowd. Not gonna happend because you told these same people they could stay on their parents plan. This is just plain stupid, you make a plan that relies on 18-26 year olds signing up. However, in the same plan you give them a loophole so they don`t have to sign up.
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    Your comment makes the misleading and false assumption that every 18-26 year old can be covered by a parent's policy.

    March 17, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
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