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WASHINGTON BUREAU — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is trying to save the struggling Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan program by paying agents and brokers enrollment commissions.

HHS also plans to ease eligibility standards and cut the cost of participating in the program, officials say.

The PCIP provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) was supposed to provide immediate relief for uninsured people with health problems, to help fill the gap until insurers start selling subsidized coverage on a guaranteed issue, mostly community-rated basis in 2014.

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