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RI panel to get update on health exchange

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A Rhode Island legislative panel is getting an update on implementation of the state's health insurance marketplace before it officially launches next month.

The House Finance Committee has scheduled a Thursday hearing to get an update from HealthSource RI Director Christine Ferguson.

The so-called health benefits exchange is a centerpiece of the federal health care overhaul. It's designed to help individuals and small businesses shop for insurance plans.

Most Americans will be required to have coverage as of Jan. 1. Many will be able to access federal subsidies through the exchange.

HealthSource RI will open for enrollment on Oct. 1. It is offering 12 individual and 16 small group plans for 2014.

About 124,000 people are currently uninsured in Rhode Island in a population of just over 1 million.