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The pre-existing conditions plan has helped 135,000 people get coverage, but it had to suspend new enrollments in February to make sure it had enough money to take care of existing enrollees. It has cost more than $4.7 billion, although officials said Thursday it has the funds to carry its remaining 85,000 participants through January.

Patient groups were quick to praise the one-month extension.

“Extending the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will give tens of thousands of people with a history of cancer or another serious disease the security of knowing they will not face a costly gap in coverage on Jan. 1 if they cannot enroll in a marketplace plan by Dec. 23,” said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.