Sister of Obama administration official featured in Obamacare ad

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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A bright-eyed young woman featured as a happy participant in an ad for the government’s new Obamacare exchanges is also the sister of a high-ranking Obama administration health official.

“Have you met Alejandra?” asks a site run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Alejandra is looking forward to college and needs insurance, according to an ad on Healthcare.gov, which is managed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Alejandra “plans to become a health professional – just like her big sister Mayra…And like millions of young adults across the country, Alejandra does not have health insurance,” according to the ad, which is being sent out via email by the federal government. “She used to pay $300 for a checkup that will now be covered in the Marketplace.”

“Alejandra paid $300 out of her own pocket for a checkup and some shots that she needed for school,” said Alejandra’s sister Mayra, who is featured in the ad.

However, the ad does not disclose that Mayra Alvarez is the director of public health policy in the Office of Health Reform at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Alvarez previously served as a legislative assistant on health issues for Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin.

“The Obama administration believes that everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to the nation’s strength, and be a part of the public good…With the Affordable Care Act, we’re giving Americans more freedom and control over their health care choices,” Alvarez said in an interview with WhiteHouse.gov to mark the launch of WhiteHouse.gov/hispanic.

Mayra Alvarez previously wrote about her younger sister’s need for Obamacare in an April op-ed for NBClatino.com.

The Obamacare “Marketplaces” open for enrollment in October. The administration is currently rolling out “campaign-style demographic targeting” to attract younger, healthier people to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges, which will initially serve primarily older, sicker people and thus drive up health-care rates under the law.

“Do you have a story you want to share? We’re listening,” according to the CMS ad, which also details a “Healthy Young America video contest” that offers a “chance for you to create a video, compete for prizes, and help young adults learn more about finding health coverage.” Unfortunately, submissions for the contest needed to be in by this past Monday.

Mayra Alvarez declined to comment. CMS and HHS did not return requests for comment.

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