White House to begin Obamacare March Madness Monday
March 16th, 2014
06:52 PM ET
8 years 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.

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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. Smitty

    What a joke. If Obumbles care is so great why doesn't any body want it ?? Another bone head move and waste of money from this admin.

    March 16, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. Celebrity Dictator

    Love the way our tax dollars are being used to fund advertisement for something that 67% of the country doesn't want. Brilliant!

    March 16, 2014 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. croaton999

    It's March 15th, too late for this to make any difference

    March 16, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  4. rs

    This begins an interesting race.
    With every successful enrollment into the ACA (4million plus and counting), and enrollments into Medicaid at the state level for the poor. we see the Koch/GOP lies- their advertisements that were made with actors, and made-up situations and scripts, and later real people with horror stories who then wound up saving thousands of dollars by enrolling in the ACA. Never mind the accumulated pain for the poor in GOP controlled states that elected to not expand their Medicaid for the poor. Whose meme will win?
    Will the success of the ACA dim the GOP's anti-heath care insurance line, or will the numbers not come up fast enough?
    We'll see.

    March 16, 2014 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  5. 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.

    March 16, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. Jan Nappylotto

    Hey kids! Sign up for thd law run and based on lies!
    "You can keep you policy. Period"
    "You can keep you doctor."
    "The website will be ready by Devember 1st."

    March 16, 2014 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  7. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Nice! LeBron is on our side. Who will the GOP counter with? A fossil like John Elway? Bobby Hull? Yawn...

    March 16, 2014 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  8. Chris-E...al

    A d0g must have ate 0bamas play book ? He has never played the A game always makes fouls and double dribbles and and even puts a charge on the american dream ! And its way 0vertime to vote the dems out in 214 / 216 if we want the U.S. to win and avoid m0re years of constant upsets and loss . thx

    March 16, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  9. Marie MD

    Great opportunity to reach out not just to the young who think they are invincible but many others.
    Of course there will always be those who need it but won't have anything to do with anything Obama. I know people like that and I don't tell them but they are brainless.

    March 16, 2014 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  10. ED1

    He doesn't have to worry about Obamacare anyway what a joke.

    March 16, 2014 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  11. Kaehu

    It is time to take back our country.

    March 17, 2014 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  12. @RI_Roger

    The White House throws so much money at marketing this program, they could actually insure twice as many people as they are signing up. Another example of big government waste.

    March 17, 2014 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  13. Retired Navy

    Ya right, let’s spend another couple hundred million dollars advertising for a product that’s over priced and doesn’t do much for the buyer. To buy into Obozocare you have to be uninformed , or a sucker, or just a blind follower.

    March 17, 2014 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  14. Stuffitu

    Lett me see if I understand this, according to the regime, we had an estimated 48 million without health insurance in this country. So the democrat liberal "progressives" decided that they needed to overhaul the healthcare industry. The result has been that 6 million people lost the coverage they had, almost everyone else has had their rates,deductibles and co pays raised and 4.2 million of those 48 million uninsured have signed up for insurance and all most all of those will receive subsides from taxpayers, leaving is with 44 million uninsured. And the most corrupt, inept, incompetent president in our history calls this his signature program and a big success?

    March 17, 2014 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  15. Gurgyl

    I have a whole lot of my friends ENROLLED in ACA LAW, they are very very happy. They are NOW COVERED UNDER THIS GOVERNMENT-RUN-HEALTH INSURANCE. PAY LESS WOTH LOW DEDUCTIONS TOO.

    March 17, 2014 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  16. salty dog

    I can't imagine a bad thing to say about this, but I'm sure some can.

    March 17, 2014 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  17. berean1711

    Aren't we fortunate to have a President who entertains us while the Republic burns. He's not the first, but at least there wasn't any naked fiddling.

    March 17, 2014 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  18. 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.

    March 17, 2014 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  19. RIchard Long

    Wasn't December 23, 2013 the Obamacare enrollment deadline?

    March 17, 2014 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  20. Enough is Enough

    The real message? Hey everybody get covered.....some other sucker is going to foot the bill!

    March 17, 2014 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    Someone needs to tell Obama that all the advertisments in the world won't sell a lousy product.

    March 17, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  22. rs

    What a joke. If Obumbles care is so great why doesn't any body want it ?? Another bone head move and waste of money from this admin.
    4.4 million Americans apparently disagree with you.

    March 17, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  23. rs

    Fair is Fair
    Someone needs to tell Obama that all the advertisments in the world won't sell a lousy product.
    What the ACA sells is commercially available health care insurance policies. The government has no control over those beyond seeing the junk policies are no longer available. Meanwhile the ACA provides deep discounts to enrollees based upon their income, up to $96,000 per year. I hate to tell you there are great deals there- even the Koch's poor disaster lady saved $1,200 a year. Mind you the individual mandate that the Right is so tweaked about was included because the Right wanted it- it comes straight from the GOP's '90s version health care reform plan and their beloved Heritage Foundation.
    Face it: the ACA is working, it is legal. The GOP is looking foolish (52 votes now?)- it has no plan, except to make life harder for the poor and middle classes. That won't get votes.

    March 17, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Enough is Enough

    The real message? Hey everybody get covered.....some other sucker is going to foot the bill!
    Guess who this "other sucker" will be in most cases? It will be the person receiving the health care. Conservatives want to act like everything regarding health care used to be perfect. It wasn't, and you'd be lying to claim that it was. Well, actually it was perfect if you were an insurance executive. In a some ways, it still is.

    I don't want to go back to everybody getting health care without having to pay a dime for it. Whatever happened to that grand conservative principal called personal responsibility? It doesn't exist. Most of the conservative message is artificial, anyway. It's so full of holes and hypocrisies that it isn't funny anymore. It's pathetic that conservatives think most people will be persuaded by their smoke screens for their hidden agendas. George W. Bush put an end to that. I'm not blaming him. I'm thanking him.

    March 17, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  25. Tampa Tim

    According to RWNJs, not having access to healthcare is better than having private insurance. The GOBaggers have left reality.

    March 17, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
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