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Sebelius recruits women to blog about ObamaCare as part of public relations campaign

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FILE: June 20, 2012: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks at Covenant Community Care Inc. in Detroit. (AP)

The White House is taking its public relations campaign for ObamaCare to the web.

On Thursday Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has courted celebrities, librarians and others to play a role in a massive campaign aimed at informing the public about the new health care law, extended the campaign to bloggers -- most of them women gathered at an annual event in Chicago.

Sebelius told the bloggers most Americans are unsure how the new law will affect them, and are more likely to seek information from a source they trust.

"I bet you more people could tell you the name of the new prince of England than could tell you that the health market opens Oct. 1," Sebelius said at the national BlogHer conference.

Sebelius specifically stressed how the law will affect women, garnering applause when she said health insurers will no longer be able to charge women more than men for a similar policy. She cited the law's guarantee of breast cancer screenings and contraception benefits for women without extra fees or co-pays.

In the audience was Jenni Prokopy of Chicago, who blogs at chronicbabe.com and has 20,000 unique visitors a month, most women with chronic illnesses. Her readers often ask her about insurance and health care costs when "they're freaked out and don't know where to turn."

"It's my responsibility to give them accurate information (about the health care law) and present that information in a way that's still my voice," Prokopy said.

Blogger Jennifer Kehl of Deerfield, Ill., was more skeptical. She said she's "not a big fan of ObamaCare, to be honest" because "I need less bureaucracy, not more." But after hearing Sebelius speak, she said she would check the government's healthcare.gov website to learn more.

The BlogHer blogging network has a combined audience of 92 million on all social media platforms, said co-founder Jory Des Jardins of Oakland, Calif.

The federal government has a $41 million contract with public relations firm Weber Shandwick for a national campaign to push ObamaCare through different channels. Separately, federal grants will fuel a $684 million outreach effort through the states.

Coverage under the new health policies begins Jan. 1, but people can still enroll through March 31 of next year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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