Feds to smooth bumpy health care

The Obama administration is strongly encouraging health insurance companies to cut consumers some slack in January.

FILE - In this Tuesday, March 27, 2012 file photo, Amy Brighton from Medina, Ohio, who opposes health care reform, holds a sign in front of the Supreme Court in Washington during a rally as the court continues arguments on the health care law signed by President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is strongly encouraging health insurance companies to cut consumers some slack in January when new coverage takes effect under the president's overhaul.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (seh-BEEL'-yuhs) announced a batch of measures Thursday to minimize disruptions during the transition.

Some are recommendations, such as asking insurers to allow customers to temporarily keep filling prescriptions covered by a previous plan. Others are binding, such as requiring the companies to accept anyone who pays his or her premium by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31.

The administration also extended by one month a special insurance program for patients with serious health problems. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan was scheduled to expire Jan. 1.

Though intended to help, the new measures also make things more complicated.

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