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White House hires Clinton healthcare expert for Obamacare push

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Amid questions about the future of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, the White House has hired a widely respected policy expert from the Clinton administration to help coordinate final implementation of "Obamacare."

Chris Jennings, a lobbyist who spent six years as a senior adviser to former President Bill Clinton, is among a group of new healthcare-related staff expected to join the Obama White House formally later this week, an official said.

The appointment comes at a crucial juncture for Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Millions of uninsured Americans are slated to enroll in subsidized health coverage beginning October 1 through new online insurance markets in all 50 states. But the administration has recently delayed an important segment of the roll-out, raising doubts about implementation at a time of intensifying attack from Republicans and other foes.

Known for his communications skills and an ability to work across the partisan divide, Jennings has more than 30 years of healthcare experience that includes eight years with the Clinton White House and 10 years as a Senate aide on Capitol Hill.

For the past dozen years, he has headed his own healthcare lobbying and consulting firm for clients that include labor unions, AARP and nonprofit groups including the Clinton Global Initiative.

The administration has been taking on new staff for months in anticipation of the opening of the exchanges.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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