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Obama to visit Prince George's County next week

President Barack Obama will travel to Prince George's County on Thursday to discuss health care days before health insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act will open for business, a White House official said Saturday.

Obama will travel to Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md., about two miles east of the Washington Beltway, to speak on the controversial health care law that has been embraced by state officials. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration has been among the most aggressive in the nation creating marketplaces that many will use to buy health insurance.

Those marketplaces are set to start accepting enrollees Oct. 1.

"Maryland has been a leader in implementing the benefits and protections of the Affordable Care Act, holding insurance companies accountable and ensuring consumers have the knowledge they need to choose the plan that best fits them," the administration said.

The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, has been at the center of a renewed debate on Capitol Hill in recent weeks. The Republican-led House of Representatives approved a stop-gap budget on Friday that would keep the government running after Oct. 1 but that would defund the health care law. The proposal stands no chance in the Senate.

Maryland's exchange is being created by the state but the policies offered in it are sold by private insurers, not the government. The exchange allows consumers to compare private plans in the same way that websites allow travelers to compare flight prices and buy airline tickets.

Virtually every American will be required to buy some form of health insurance by Jan. 1. Those who receive coverage from their employer or through an existing government programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, won’t use the exchanges.

Obama last spoke in Maryland in May, when he visited a dredging company in Baltimore.

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