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President Obama presses health care sign ups at lunch with young people


By: Lesley Clark

With young people critical to the success of his health care law, President Barack Obama spent an hour at lunch Friday with five young people the White House says are “spearheading creative outreach efforts to connect with and help enroll young consumers.”

The White House said Oama “wanted to hear directly from young people about their experiences spreading the word about the importance of signing up for quality, affordable health insurance and thank them for their efforts.”

His motorcade sped north from the White House to The Coupe restaurant — which bills itself as serving “early birds, night owls and everyone in between” — in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. Two of those lunching with Obama participated in the Youth Summit the White House hosted in early December that was designed to help mobilize young leaders and influencers interested in doing health care outreach and enrollment efforts.

With its website improving, The White House says its focusing on an aggressive outreach effort to reach young people, working with grassroots organizers, elected officials, colleges and universities, celebrities, athletes and arts leaders.

It plans a National Youth Enrollment Day on Feb. 15. Organizations are using a number of different tactics to drive enrollment, including door to door canvassing in targeted neighborhoods, tables at fairs and concerts, flyers at malls, encouraging religious leaders to talk about enrollment at their congregations, asking employers to make sure their employees understand their options, sharing personal testimonials about health care, and creating web content to share via social media.

The diners who joined the President for today’s lunch included Anne Johnson, executive director of Generation Progress, the youth division of the Center for American Progress; David Dimock, an entrepreneur who started a business that places TVs and programming in Community Health Centers across the country; Jasmine Hicks, national organizing and education manager for Young Invincibles, an organization that advocates for 18-34 year olds; Tommy McFly, a radio personality and host of the Tommy show on 94.7 FM; and Andres Cruz, who works as a DC Health Link In-Person Assister to help DC-area residents enroll for insurance.