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Obama administration touts $150 million in new grants for health care enrollment


The Obama administration on Wednesday announced $150 million worth of new grants intended to help consumers enroll in Obamacare, looking to brush off mounting questions about the implementation of the president’s signature legislative achievement.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the federal government would spend $150 million to hire nearly 3,000 health center workers to help people use insurance exchanges through Obamacare. Though the administration decided to delay the employer mandate until 2015, the requirement that individuals obtain health insurance or pay a fine is going ahead as planned.

“Investing in health centers means that people in neighborhoods and towns across the country have one more resource to help them understand their insurance options and enroll in affordable coverage,” Sebelius said.

However, Republicans are using the delayed rule for employers to argue that the individual mandate should be postponed as well. The success of Obamacare depends on federal officials convincing younger, healthier people to enroll in the program so the costs of older patients can be absorbed.

Polls show that most Americans remain wary of the Affordable Care Act, and the administration has been criticized for not doing enough to sell the reforms.

In response, the White House is ramping up efforts to promote the programs. In addition to the new grants, President Obama this week will announce a pair of new appointments to health care posts, jobs billed as a way to lay the foundation for the massive federal effort.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sebelius will host a Google hangout to answer questions about the enrollment process.

House Republicans have promised another vote to repeal the entire health law, a largely symbolic gesture they believe will carry more heft with the recent setbacks for Obamacare.