Posted: Tuesday, 08 October 2013 8:00AM

More Celebrities Stage Star-Studded Effort to Sell Obamacare



KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the week since the launch of the Affordable Care Act's state health insurance exchanges, a steady stream of celebrity advocates have taken to social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to encourage Americans to #GetCovered (to use their preferred hashtag).

It's all part of an orchestrated public awareness campaign that the White House has been preparing since early summer.

The effort included a widely publicized July 22 meeting hosted by President Obama's senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, that included various celebrities like Jennifer Hudson, Amy Poehler and Michael Cera, as well as entertainment representatives.

Also in attendance were White House Entertainment Advisory Council co-chairs Eric Ortner, actor Kal Penn and Warner Music Group's Bruce Roberts. In an interview with ABC News, Ortner was quick to point out that the purpose of the meeting was to give the stars facts about the law, also called Obamacare, and let them pass information to their fans.

"What we do is just get people together, build a network based on true facts and real stories, and ask them to expose them without the veil of partisan politics to their audience," Ortner said.  "These are just people that want to tell the truth to their networks."

The White House says the youth network is vital to the law's success.  Out of the seven million people the Congressional Budget Office estimates will sign up for the new health care exchanges in 2014, the Obama administration is hoping 40 percent -- or 2.7 million -- of those enrollees will be young, uninsured Americans, ages 18 to 35.

But the White House has some competition from conservatives.

One group also trying to reach this network to criticize the law rather than promote it is Virginia-based coalition Generation Opportunity, funded in part by the conservative Koch Brothers, which has released a slew of ominous ads featuring "young Americans with Obamacare" who say they're unhappy about their new coverage.

A scalpel-wielding Uncle Sam appears near the end of the clip along with a warning, "Don't let the government play doctor. Opt out of Obamacare."

It's just this kind of media blitz that Mike Farah, president of Funny or Die, is working to combat.

"When you see the huge campaign against [Obamacare], and I truly believe everything has some flaws but at the end of the day this is a positive thing for people who don't have access to it, I do feel a sense of challenge," said Farah, who was also on hand for the July White House meeting.

"Funny or Die is a company that does the work and isn't afraid to go out and make things.  So much of Hollywood is talking about things, but we're going to do everything we can to make impactful pieces of contact, so that there are other voices out there," he said.

Funny or Die, which attracts more than 60 million video views a month, Farah said, plans to continue rolling out new pro-Obamacare videos for the next six months.

"We have a whole slate of things that involve well-known comedians, up and coming comedians, dramatic actors, musicians," Farah said.  "As much as possible we're going to have these videos feel like any other Funny or Die video and the casting is indicative of that."

Farah declined to say which celebrities might appear in future videos.

The issue of affordable health care is one that both Farah and Ortner said have struck a personal cord for many entertainers, inspiring them to get involved.

"There's no one that's been more underserved by the health insurance system than aspiring artists and creators, whether it's a band starting out in a club or a kid that just graduated out of college," Ortner said.  "They've been left behind and they're excited that they can get covered."

Such personal stories are the kind that Ortner said celebrities will use to get the word out about Obamacare as Americans get used to the new system for signing up for coverage, which has been a frustrating process for some.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


A   A   A
Share