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$150M devoted for health plan enrollment

| Thursday, May 9, 2013, 6:12 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced on Thursday that community health centers around the country will get $150 million to help uninsured Americans sign up for health insurance coverage under the new health care law.

The money addresses concerns from Congress and advocacy groups that many consumers will have a hard time navigating the health coverage options available to them next year as a mix of government programs and tax credits for private insurance kicks in.

Last month, the administration made $54 million available to states and private groups so that they could hire new health insurance “navigators.” The same concept is being applied to the nation's 1,200 community health centers, which serve about 21 million patients each year, many of them without health insurance.

Beginning in July, each center will get a minimum of $55,000, and will have to provide quarterly reports documenting how many people they enrolled for health coverage.

Beginning Oct. 1, consumers can enroll in coverage through health insurance marketplaces called “exchanges” established by the states or the federal government. Coverage under the private plans begins Jan. 1.

Some lawmakers have said they're worried that the health insurance exchanges won't open on time, and when they do, will be confusing to consumers.

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