Calif. health exchange plans for budget shortfall

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California's health-insurance exchange is setting aside nearly $200 million to fight off projected budget shortfalls as it prepares for a challenging financial future.

The agency known as Covered California tallied 625,000 health care enrollments through mid-January, the most of any state.

But officials say the agency's survival is not assured, in part because of uncertainty around sign-ups that are key to the exchange's success.

Executive director Peter Lee tells the state Finance Department in a December letter that Covered California's greatest vulnerabilities include the "long-term sustainability of the organization."

Federal grants that have been its sole source of support -- more than $1 billion so far -- dry up this year.

A state audit last summer labeled the agency "high-risk" because of the difficulty projecting future enrollments.

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