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Affordable Health Care officials want African Americans, enlists the help of mayors

Dana Gethers | 2/23/2014, 10:07 p.m.

White House officials report that by the end of January 2014 more than 3.3 million Americans will have signed up for health care under the Affordable Care Act. Despite this, White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett reasons that the number could be much higher if more members of the African American community would take advantage.

"Six in 10 uninsured African Americans may be eligible for tax credits [or other benefits]," if they sign up, said Senior Adviser Jarrett.

In order to help rally people to sign up, "[Affordable Health Care officials] are enlisting the help of mayors across the nation... [who serve] in areas with many uninsured residents," she said.

Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, California is one of the many mayors working with the White House. He remarked on the necessity of coverage for people of color in particular.

"Adolescents of color are more likely than their white counterparts to be uninsured," said Johnson.

He revealed that so far 21,000 people in Sacramento who had been denied private coverage were able to sign up with the Affordable Health Care Act.

Some listeners were concerned with the future of Medicaid, and its affect on health care.

"Ninety thousand people in Philadelphia will not be able to take advantage of Affordable Health Care without the expansion of Medicaid," said Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mayor A. C. Wharton of Memphis, Tennessee revealed that, “there are 88,000 in the city [of Memphis] who are uninsured.”

He agreed with the other mayors that a lack of information about the cost of the health care causes many poor Americans to avoid the plan; a key issue in Memphis due to the high level of poverty.

Even with thousands of African Americans still uninsured, the mayors revealed that the outreach tactics they are implementing are getting members of this community to sign up.

Johnson also spoke about his use of traditional and social media to educate individuals about the benefits of Affordable Health Care in his city. This is in addition to faith-based projects initiated by Memphis Mayor Wharton that he reports have helped encouraged people to sign up.

"I'm proud of the work we're doing in California," said Johnson.

White House Senior Adviser, Jarrett commended the achievements of the mayors, reiterating the importance of their efforts for the overall progress of the Affordable Health Care Act.

"[Our] top priority is reaching every American."

When asked how many African Americans had signed up for Affordable Health Care to date, a White House official, said he did not have the numbers because the count is not distinguished by race, but suggested he would look into it.