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Obamacare Open Enrollment Ends Saturday In Florida And Other States

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) — Those interested in Affordable Care Act coverage for 2022 have until the end of Saturday to sign up in Florida and most other states as well.

Open enrollment, which lasted a month longer than under the Trump administration, ends January 15 in the 33 states that use the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, and in several states that run their own marketplaces.

READ MORE: Florida Hospitals Top 11,500 COVID-19 Patients

Certain states, such as New York and California, have extended the deadline by a few weeks. Idaho, on the other hand, ended its open enrollment in mid-December.

Interest in Affordable Care Act coverage has surged, propelled by more generous federal subsidies that reduce premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

More than 14.2 million people had signed up for coverage on the federal and state exchanges as of January 8 — a record number for the 9-year-old program. That includes more than 10 million who have selected plans or were automatically reenrolled through healthcare.gov. A total of about 12 million people signed up during open enrollment for 2021 coverage.

“Americans need, they want and they deserve quality, affordable health care,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, told reporters Thursday. “Anyone who has ever lived without health coverage knows the peace of mind that comes from having access to care when you need it. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they’re getting it.”

Obamacare is proving particularly popular in GOP-led states that have not expanded Medicaid to low-income adults, including Florida and Texas.

The surge in interest in the Affordable Care Act comes as the Biden administration and the Democratic-led Congress have pumped more resources into the landmark health care law.

The hefty enhancement of Obamacare’s federal premium subsidies, part of the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package enacted last March, is helping drive consumers to sign up for plans.

This year, enrollees pay no more than 8.5% of their incomes toward coverage, down from nearly 10%. And lower-income policyholders receive subsidies that eliminate their premiums. Also, those earning more than 400% of the federal poverty level are now eligible for help for the first time.

READ MORE: Kevin Smith Named Running Backs Coach For Hurricanes Football

Four out of five consumers are finding plans for $10 or less a month, Becerra said. More than 90% of those on the federal exchange are getting financial assistance for coverage.

But this generous aid expires after 2022, leading some consumers and experts to worry about what will happen next year, when premiums would likely rise. President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan would extend the subsidies through 2025, but it remains stalled in the Senate.

To let Americans know about the extra assistance available now, the Biden administration has launched an extensive outreach and marketing campaign.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the federal exchange, is teaming up with local groups to spread the word and concentrating its media efforts on local markets. It has added six additional languages to its marketing campaign.

The Biden administration is also pouring money into enrollment assistance — which serves the dual purpose of reaching folks in local communities and helping them sign up for plans. The number of navigators has quadrupled to more than 1,500 this year, with assistance available in nearly every county served by the federal exchange.

Those who miss the deadline can still enroll in Affordable Care Act coverage throughout the year through a special enrollment period if they meet certain criteria, such as losing their jobs and work-based coverage, getting divorced or having children.

The Biden administration has also made it easier to qualify for these special enrollment periods. Low-income folks can sign up if their premiums would be $0 after federal subsidies.

Some 2.8 million people selected policies for 2021 coverage last year after Biden launched a six-month special enrollment period, which allowed the uninsured to sign up for policies and enrollees to take advantage of the enhanced subsidies.

MORE NEWS: Florida Lawmakers Fast Track Extension Of COVID-19 Legal Protections For Hospitals, Nursing Homes

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Thursday is warming up Orlando, but the heat won’t stay for long

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A warming trend is rising in Central Florida, but another cold front is hot on its heels coming into the weekend.

Temperatures are approaching well above the average for January, with the high forecast for 79 degrees Thursday, the temperature low is predicted at 58, said Maureen McCann, Spectrum News 13 meteorologist.

A southwesterly wind is warming things up ahead of an approaching system thought to be bringing rain and cold temperatures to Central Florida, McCann said.

Thursday is not anticipated to have rain, but rain chances emerge Friday at 20% and Saturday at 40%. Following the rain, temperatures should drop, with Saturday’s high forecast for 65 degrees and the low at 48. That cold trend should remain in the five-day forecast through the rest of the weekend and into the start of the next work week.

Jpedersen@orlandosentinel.com

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Driver transported after crashing into fence in Hollywood

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HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) – A woman has been transported to the hospital after crashing her vehicle into a fence in Hollywood.

7SkyForce hovered over the scene where rescue crews could be seen carrying the woman away from the side of the road on a stretcher.

The crash happened along the eastbound lanes of Pines Boulevard near 68th Avenue, at around 5:45 a.m., Thursday.

The vehicle the woman was driving crashed into a nearby neighbor’s yard. There was apparently another vehicle involved in the crash.

The victim’s condition remains unknown.

7News spoke with the homeowner whose fence was destroyed. He said his son woke him up after hearing a loud crashing sound.

At around 6 a.m., his neighbor then called to see if he knew about the damage to his fence.

He said he was shocked but thankful his house wasn’t hit.

“I think the car that hit my house, she hit that black car then she ran into my fence and my neighbor’s fence and she damaged both of them,” he said. “Luckily nothing [else] happened because the concrete stopped her from going further.”

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Missouri highway patrol blasts out ‘Batman’ cell phone alert by mistake

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(CNN) — The Joker is not on the rampage in Missouri, but it looks like authorities there are ready for the “Batman” villain.

An emergency alert mistakenly sent to mobile devices Tuesday by the Missouri State Highway Patrol asked residents of Gotham City to be on the lookout for a purple/green 1978 Dodge 3700 GT. The sedan, with license plate “UKIDME,” sounds a lot like the cars used by the Joker’s goons in the 1989 Batman movie.

It turns out there is no Gotham City in Missouri, and the message was sent in error during a test — apparently by someone with an impressive knowledge of the vehicles used in the movie that pits characters played by Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.

“This was meant to be a test message, THERE WAS NO ALERT,” the law enforcement agency soon posted on social media. Similar errors by other public agencies sometimes have sparked real concern — and also gotten corrected quickly.

Missouri State Highway Patrol had been conducting “a routine test of Missouri’s Blue Alert system” when the message was sent to wireless devices around the state, the agency said in a news release.

“The Patrol regularly tests the Blue Alert system to ensure it works properly when needed. During the test, an option was incorrectly selected, allowing the message to be disseminated to the public,” the release said.

The Blue Alert system is designed to quickly spread information about “violent offenders who have killed, seriously injured, or pose an imminent and credible threat to law enforcement,” according to the highway patrol.

Last year, authorities in Chile mistakenly sent a tsunami evacuation warning following an earthquake. And in 2018, residents and tourists in Hawaii were terrified by a text warning of an incoming ballistic missile that turned out to be a false alarm.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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