Spurned by the National Football League, the White House is now turning to Hollywood to get the word out about health care reform and the new online health insurance exchanges.
President Obama met with entertainment celebrities recently to enlist their support in the administration’s campaign to enroll individuals — young adults in particular — in the state-based insurance exchanges, when they open for business on October 1.
The president dropped by a White House meeting with singer Jennifer Hudson, actress Amy Poehler and representatives for Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys and Bon Jovi, according to numerous press reports. Other attendees included officials from the Grammy Awards, the Funny or Die website, which is backed by the actor Will Ferrell and the director Adam McKay, and representatives from several other TV shows and entertainment companies.
All of the attendees have "expressed a personal interest in educating young people about the Affordable Care Act," according to a White House official. "President Obama underscored that the efforts of these artists will be especially helpful, since young uninsured Americans are key enrollment targets for the new marketplaces," the official added.
The White House is aiming to get roughly 7 million people to sign up for health insurance plans sold through the new web-based marketplaces across the 50 states next year, including about 2.7 million young adults ages 18 to 35.
Younger people’s participation is seen as critical to the ACA’s success, since without large numbers of young and healthy people participating in the online marketplaces, only the aged and chronically ill are likely to enroll. That would drive up premiums and discourage insurers from participating in the exchanges.
Administration officials previously sought the support of the NFL and other major sports leagues to help them reach a large audience of young men. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters last month that "The NFL is enthusiastically engaged … and they see health promotion as a good thing for them and for the country."
A few days later, however, after receiving a letter from two Republican senators suggesting that the league would be better off staying clear of the controversy surrounding the ACA, the NFL issued a statement saying it had “no plans” to work with the administration on promoting healthcare reform and the new exchanges.
Kass writes for HIX News, a SourceMedia publication.
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