Why Michelle Obama Wants Latina Moms to Nag Their Sons About Obamacare

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The White House wants Latina mothers to nag their sons. Young Hispanic men make up a large portion of the uninsured in the U.S., and strategists figure the best way to get them to enroll in Obamacare is to have their moms bug them about it. In a speech to the National Council of La Raza on Tuesday, Michelle Obama said, "We all have the power and the urgent responsibility to get after our young people and get them to sign up. Because while they may roll their eyes for a moment, we know that when mama and abuela speak, they listen. That's where you come in."

The Obama administration wants 2.7 million young people to enroll in Obamacare once the state insurance exchanges open on October 1. If young people don't enroll, premiums will go up because only the elderly and sick sign up, and then young people will have even less motivation to enroll. (This is what happened in New York.) Why young Latinos? Because Latinos have the highest rate of being uninsured among all ethnic groups — perhaps one reason they were more likely to favor Obamacare in election polling. Why young Latino men? Because as The Washington Post explained earlier this month, the Obama administration's campaign to sell Obamacare has figured out that the healthy young people who need to be persuaded are "overwhelmingly male" and "majority nonwhite." A third of them live in California, Florida, or Texas.

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And why get mom to nag them? The Post reports that David Simas, who was director of public-opinion research and polling for Obama's reelection campaign, has analyzed the group. Who do they listen to? "No surprise. It’s mom." Plus, the Labor Department says women make about 80 percent of the health care decisions in their families. The administration admits it's selling Obamacare the same way it ran the 2012 Obama campaign in who it wants to reach and how it does so. "When I hear the conventional wisdom about Obamacare," Jeanne Lambrew, deputy assistant to the president for health policy, told the Post, "this is the difference between the Karl Roves who put their fingers to the wind and the Nate Silvers of the world who looked at the numbers."

It's clear why the White House picked the first lady to convince moms to nag their sons. Michelle Obama remains popular even as her husband's approval ratings slip. And being a mom is one of her top talking points, after all — earlier this month, she spoke to a group of African first ladies in Tanzania, saying "we just bring a different perspective. We are mothers. We are nurturers."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.