Photo by AP

Photo by AP

As many as 135,000 individuals enrolled in federally funded programs for people with pre-existing conditions will be given a few more weeks to find replacement coverage for next year through Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday.

The Affordable Care Act established the $5 billion Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) in 2010 as a bridge to the exchanges, and the program was set to expire at the end of this year. But given the ongoing difficulties in using and several state-run health insurance marketplaces, concerns have grown that these sickest beneficiaries could find themselves uninsured next month, which could disrupt their medical care and expose them to extraordinarily high costs.

Under the policy announced Thursday, PCIP beneficiaries in 40 states and the District of Columbia, where the federal government operates the program, would have until the end of January to enroll in new coverage via the health insurance exchanges. Ten states run the program for their residents on behalf of the federal government and would have to sign off on the extension, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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