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05/22/2007 11:29 AM ET
Connector teams up with Red Sox to build enrollment in new health insurance plans
Other corporate/civic partnerships announced as part of public education campaign
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
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BOSTON -- Governor Deval Patrick and the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority today announced that the Boston Red Sox will be partnering with the state in an unprecedented public education campaign to let uninsured residents know that health insurance is now more affordable, easier to get, and required for most residents of the Commonwealth.

As part of this effort, the Health Connector will 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.

"The success of healthcare reform depends on getting people to participate and share with us what works and what doesn't work," Gov. Patrick said. "I applaud the broad coalition of partners who have come together and have stayed together to make these reforms work."

The announcement came as the Health Connector previewed its new integrated marketing campaign entitled Cover Your Bases - Connect to Health. The campaign includes advertising, which will launch next week, outreach partnerships with CVS, Comcast, Shaw's and Star Supermarket, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Service Employees International Union 1199, Bank of America and the MBTA, along with a grassroots enrollment effort. Planned outreach efforts range from public service announcements, window signage, billboards, receipt messaging and in-store radio announcements to pro bono advertising and grassroots enrollment efforts.

A companion ad campaign sponsored by the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Coalition, a partnership of business and health care advocates, was also previewed. It will help to expand the reach of the Connector's message and enhance support for Health Care Reform.

House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray, Red Sox President Larry Lucchino, Partners HealthCare Chairman Jack Connors, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts Executive Vice President Peter Meade and Health Connector Executive Director Jon Kingsdale also took part in the announcement at Boston's Fenway Park.

"Everybody needs health insurance and it will soon be the law in Massachusetts," Lucchino said at the Fenway announcement. "Massachusetts is leading the nation when it comes to health care. The Red Sox are proud to be part of this historic effort."

Through the partnership, the Red Sox will provide the state with:

• An information kiosk at all home games so that individuals can find out about the health insurance plans and enroll
• Use of the Red Sox logo on information materials and the Health Connector's new enrollment van
• A special Cover Your Bases - Connect to Health night at Fenway Park
• A full page informational insert in Red Sox home game program in September
• A partnership with the Red Sox ambassadors, several of whom are featured in the ads and will be assisting with enrollment efforts throughout the summer
• Health Connector spots will run during pre-game ceremonies throughout the season

Cover Your Bases-Connect to Health is an integrated communications campaign that includes television, radio and print advertising. These ads will run heavily on NESN during Red Sox games. The placements will be particularly effective at reaching young viewers, a demographic that represents the majority of uninsured residents. The Connector will also buy television and radio advertising, print ads in community, ethnic and college newspapers as part of the campaign that will run through mid-November. It is working with the MBTA which has generously offered pro bono advertising opportunities in subway cars and buses.

"We knew passing historic health care reform was just the beginning and that we would need committed public- and private-sector partners to enroll people in the great new affordable health plans available," said House Speaker DiMasi. "This effort is another tremendous step toward fulfilling our vision of providing quality, affordable health care to every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth."

"It is great to see the coalition we built to bring health care insurance to all our citizens is as committed as ever to the mission," said Senate President Murray. "With such a lineup of partners, the campaign to educate Red Sox Nation about our new health plans is bound to be successful."

Jack Connors, Chairman of Partners HealthCare said, "The goal of our coalition is to keep up the momentum for health care reform in Massachusetts. We all want this to work."

Peter Meade, Executive Vice President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, who introduced the coalition's ads and described the associated outreach efforts, said, "These important efforts to expand access to health insurance are part of a broad-based coalition of organizations who worked to gain passage of the law, and now are committed to its success."

The Massachusetts Health Care Reform Coalition includes Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Caritas Christi Health Care, Children's Hospital Boston, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Health Care for All, Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Business Roundtable, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Massachusetts Hospital Association, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Neighborhood Health Plan, Partners HealthCare, Tufts Health Plan and Tufts-New England Medical Center.

"We are tremendously grateful to all of our partners," said Health Connector Executive Director Kingsdale. "Their outreach efforts will make health care reform work for thousands of uninsured people."

The Health Connector also detailed its plans to launch an enrollment van that will travel across the state this summer, stopping at large community gatherings and at legislators' district offices for specially planned sessions at which individuals can get assistance with the enrollment process.

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