Fox News senselessly accused the Baltimore Ravens of caving to political pressure by agreeing to promote Maryland's health insurance exchange -- an accusation that falls apart given the team's past work to increase access to health care in Maryland.
In early September, Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown announced that the state's health insurance exchange would partner with the Ravens "to connect with Maryland residents about the importance of developing a health coverage game plan." On October 23, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade framed the Ravens' partnership with Maryland's health insurance marketplace as unusual, claiming that the team had "gone outside the NFL" because of political pressure from Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley, who wants to run for president. Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck said that the Ravens were "the first to cave" to Democratic pressure to help enroll uninsured Americans in the ACA exchanges:
HASSELBECK: So right now he's gone to the Baltimore Ravens. As you said, the NFL said no, we don't want to be involved. But I think what's happening is they know the millions of people that watch the NFL. They know the marketing machine that is the National Football League. And they understand how even breast cancer was brought to the front lines of what we're talking about in donations and money through the NFL. And so they figure, OK, instead of doing a national sweep, which they're doing with health care, we're going to go team to team and see how many we can break. And the Baltimore Ravens were the first to cave. I thought they had a good defense.
The Ravens' decision to help enroll fans in health insurance in Maryland was reported early in September, but it wasn't the first time that the team had promoted government health insurance initiatives in the state. Fox News failed to mention the team's involvement in Maryland's 2008 Medicaid expansion. From The Wall Street Journal:
The partnership with the two-time Super Bowl champions is part of a broader campaign unveiled on Tuesday to market Maryland Health Connection that will allow consumers to shop for health insurance or sign up for Medicaid if they qualify. The Obama administration had been hoping to partner with the National Football League to promote its signature health law, also known as Obamacare, but the league balked after some Republican lawmakers issued a warning to sports organizations to avoid the issue.
However, the Baltimore Ravens have previously been involved in promoting Maryland health efforts including a 2008 expansion of Medicaid. Research conducted for the state suggests 71% of uninsured people watched, attended or listened to a Baltimore Ravens game in the past 12 months. About 800,000,or 14% of the state's population of 5.8 million, is uninsured. The state is also partnering with the drug-store chain CVS Inc. and regional grocery store Giant Food, a unit of Ahold NV.
It's not only Democratic-led states that do this. The Hill reported that under Romney's leadership, "Massachusetts famously partnered with the Boston Red Sox in 2006 to promote its healthcare reform law, which was the model for the Affordable Care Act." According to the Boston Globe, the team "was instrumental in getting young uninsured fans to sign up for coverage under the 2006 law."
Though Kilmeade suggested that the NFL disapproves of teams' involvement the ACA rollout, CNN reported in September that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had said "that while the league as a whole decided not to participate, they're not discouraging individual franchises from taking part." He was quoted on CBS' This Morning saying that the Ravens "have made that decision and we support them."