LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Community groups are hustling to meet an Oct. 1 deadline to launch a new health insurance marketplace in Nebraska, a key piece of the federal health care law designed to steer users toward a coverage plan.

Nebraska state officials have maintained a hands-off approach to the marketplace, which requires hiring and training a small army of experts to guide newcomers through the process. Gov. Dave Heineman rejected a state-run option in November, saying it was too expensive for Nebraska taxpayers, so the federal government took charge of setting it up.

The responsibility for training the insurance "navigators" has fallen to two groups: Community Action of Nebraska, a nonprofit that has local offices in all 93 counties, and the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, which will offer services primarily to American Indians. Both have received one-year federal grants to hire navigators. Nationally, the effort to establish navigator services includes more than 100 nonprofits and other organizations, which specialize in everything from running soup kitchens to organizing farm workers.

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