Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Blog

By Firas Suqi
Spring Intern, 2014

AAI hosted an Emerging Leaders Program event at our offices yesterday with Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Health Reform, Catherine Oakar. The event served to inform young Arab American leaders about the importance of registering for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and how to go about mobilizing the Arab American community to get enrolled in the ACA Marketplace before the coming March 31, 2014 open enrollment deadline. Oakar, a young Arab American of Syrian descent, also provided insights on her career path and the challenges of working on such an expansive health policy rollout.

The timing of the event coincided with President Obama’s appearance on “Between two Ferns,” a satirical online interview show hosted by Zach Galifianakis, where the President plugged ACA while encouraging young Americans to enroll.

“Young people like to think that they’re invincible,” said Oakar during her presentation, echoing the White House’s emphasis on encouraging young adults to get insured before the deadline.

HHS reports nearly half of young adults (46%) were uninsured prior to the rollout of the ACA. Oakar explained that while the number of uninsured young adults is shrinking, there are still millions of young Americans who qualify for the ACA Marketplace and can receive coverage for as little as $50 or less after tax credits.

“It’s [ACA] about fixing a broken system,” said Oakar while demonstrating the obstacles faced by low-income households and individuals with preexisting conditions who couldn’t afford the high price of health insurance prior to ACA. “People who couldn’t afford coverage or were denied coverage in the past can now receive the care they need.”

Oakar’s presentation also cleared the air of confusion surrounding the ACA, as some critics of the new law have been propagating wrong information about the ACA. In various parts of the country, Arab Americans are already hosting enrollment events and AAI hopes that with the information gained from Oakar’s presentation, participants in our Emerging Leaders Program now have the resources and knowledge they need to be effective messengers about how to get enrolled in the ACA marketplace before the March 31st deadline.



Here are some resources you can use to learn more about the ACA and to host your own enrollment event:

Do your part, and take part in the HHS Tell One campaign here.

For more information on the health insurance marketplace, click here.

For information on how to host your own health care enrollment event, click here.


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