Obama Asks Celebrities to Help with ACA Rollout

I’ve already covered in detail the close relationship President Obama has fostered with folks in  Hollywood. The entertainment industry has always skewed liberal, but in this funny political era when nearly every industry has turned against national Democrats, the support provided by folks like George Clooney and Jeffrey Katzenberg was vital to Obama’s re-election.

But their contributions go beyond fundraising. Obama understand the power of celebrities to shape the zeitgeist, and now he is turning to them for help in advance of the rollout of state health insurance exchanges that are a key tenet of the Affordable Care Act, his signature first-term legislative achievement. From The Hill:

The White House is working to recruit Hollywood celebrities to help promote ObamaCare, a top celebrity political adviser told The Hill.

Trevor Neilson, a veteran of the Clinton White House, said he’s in talks with the Obama administration and that his clients are “looking at ways to be involved.”

Neilson represents Eva Longoria, John Legend and many other stars as president of Global Philanthropy Group. His past clients have reportedly included Shakira and Madonna, and he has close ties to Bono and Bill Gates.

No surprise that folks like Longoria and John Legend are getting involved. The former was the co-chair of his campaign in charge of outreach to the Latino community, and Legend performed numerous sets at Obama fundraisers. But I think Obama should broaden his gaze in this particular request, which has a very specific purpose:

Celebrity spokespeople for the law would help to connect key demographics — such as young people — to their new benefits. The participation of young, healthy men in the exchanges is especially vital for keeping the markets stable and premium prices low.

“It’s both about numbers and getting a healthy risk pool,” Sebelius said of the need to enroll young people.

For those of you lucky enough to be unaware of the minutae of the Affordable Care Act, here’s why this is important. The idea behind insurance-based universal health care is that it only works if everyone signs up. If only people who are likely to get sick participate, the costs are unlikely to drop. But if young, healthy people who require little care sign up, it may drive down the cost for everyone. Why would a young, healthy male sign up for health insurance? Maybe out of civic duty. But it would be easier – and far more likely – to get a few celebrities to endorse the idea. I’d be interested to see the White House working with Hollywood producers to incorporate young, healthy men getting insurance into television and movie storylines. Maybe in the next big romantic comedy, Zac Efron and Amanda Seyfried could play an unemployed musician and physician’s assistant, respectively, and Efron signs up for health insurance so he can have a reason to keep seeing her. Come on, Hollywood, this stuff writes itself!

Then again, the exchanges begin this fall, and time is running out. Touting celebrity support might be the best idea at this late date, as long as the administration picks stars who are sure to appeal to young, healthy, virile men. I’ve embedded a few of my selections below, all of whom are public supporters of the president.

BTW, Mr. President: if you need any help vetting these candidates, I’m more than willing to offer my services.

scarlett-johansson-hairstyle-3 Jessica Alba
Mila Kunis attending the Los Angeles premiere of 'Ted' held at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles Olivia Wilde
Zooey Deschanel Olivia Munn
Natalie Portman

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