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President Obama May Recruit Hollywood Stars to Promote Obamacare

Eva Longoria, John Legend among names who could help persuade consumers to sign up with affordable care exchanges in October

With little money from Congress to pay for advertising, the Obama administration may ask Hollywood celebrities to help publicize the October opening of the new Affordable Care Act exchanges.

The Capitol Hill publication Roll Call on Tuesday reported that Trevor Neilson, president of the Global Philanthropy Group, is in talks with the administration about using stars in ads urging consumers to buy health insurance through the exchanges 

Neilson has used Eva Longoria, John Legend and other celebrities in some of his events and Longoria already has close ties to Obama. Neither Neilson nor the White House returned messages seeking comment.

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The Department of Health and Human Services is also in talks with sports leagues to promote the program.

Fabien Levy, press secretary for the Department, said HHS is exploring a options to publicize the exchanges, but declined to talk specifically about the use of celebrities

"We are speaking with a wide range of potential partners and organizations about our efforts to inform Americans of the opportunity to enroll in high quality, affordable coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace," he said. 

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The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is commonly called, requires all Americans to have health insurance and bars insurers in the health exchange from refusing coverage to consumers with pre-existing medical conditions. The big challenge is getting enough healthy consumers to sign up to balance those with pre-existing conditions.

The challenge is even bigger this year because Congress has declined to approve much money for advertising the Affordable Care Act program. The Obama administration has responded by urging health providers and organizations to launch their own information campaigns about the new law and by providing public service announcements.
AARP has already begun one extensive effort.