WASHINGTON — President Obama personally appealed to the creator of "My Drunk Kitchen," the team Obama Girl, and a popular Obama impersonator to help boost health care enrollment at a White House summit of YouTube creators Thursday.
The meeting, which was hinted at on the social media accounts of several of the video makers present, was the first of its kind and comes just five weeks before Affordable Care Act enrollment closes for 2014. A White House official said Obama "discussed the importance of having influencers on YouTube get the word out to the millions of fans that they speak to every day," and thanked them for the work they've already done to help raise awareness of the health care law among young people when he stopped by the meeting, which was with senior officials.
The president "acknowledged...how powerful the YouTube community is in helping raise awareness about key issues," the official said.
Attending the meeting were Hannah Hart, creator of the Drunk Kitchen series; Iman Crosson, an Obama impersonator known online as Alphacat; Michael Stephens, the man behind the YouTube channel "VSauce;" Benny and Rafi Fine, creators of the "Kids React" series; Mark Douglas, Todd Womack, and Ben Relles, who introduced the world to Obama Girl six years ago; Peter Shuckoff and Lloyd Ahlquist of "Epic Rap Battles of History" and Tyler Oakley, an LGBT rights advocate with millions of online fans.
Among the group, Hart and Oakley also have signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Hart hosted a six-hour online signup marathon for the California health care exchange in January.
The administration has turned to internet personalities as well as stars from Hollywood, music and sports throughout the enrollment process. Celebrities have played a big part of multiple campaigns aimed at boosting youth enrollment numbers in recent months.
Youth enrollment has been lower than projected so far: The administration's original goal was for seven million Americans to enroll; the target was for roughly 40% of that group to be between 18 and 34. So far, young Americans have made up about a quarter of enrollees. The White House has pointed to studies showing a high enough percentage of young people have enrolled in Obamacare to avoid the so-called "death spiral."
Meanwhile, the administration has lowered expectations for the final tally of enrollees expected to sign up for insurance by March 31. Last month, Vice President Biden hinted enrollments won't reach the seven million figure originally predicted when the Affordable Care Act kicked in.
Still, the administration feels confident about the enrollment figures especially after the difficult opening months of the HealthCare.gov website, with a slate of outreach events and campaigns.
Update: After this article was published, a White House official sent in the names of two more attendees at the meeting: Mickey Meyer and Daniel Kellison from Jash.
Evan McMorris-Santoro is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News.
Contact Evan McMorris-Santoro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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