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Consumer experience of health law to vary as states resist, build insurance markets

RALEIGH, N.C. — With new online health insurance exchanges set to launch Tuesday, consumers in many Southern and Plains states will have to look harder for information on how the marketplaces work than their counterparts elsewhere.

In Republican-led states that oppose the federal Affordable Care Act, the strategy has ranged from largely ignoring the health overhaul to encouraging residents not to sign up and even making it harder for nonprofit organizations to provide information about the exchanges.

Health care experts worry that ultimately consumers in these states could end up confused about the exchanges, and the overall rollout of the law could be hindered.

“Without the shared planning and the cooperation of the state government, it’s much harder for them to be ready to implement this complicated law,” said Rachel Grob of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has studied differences in how states are implementing segments of the law.

Several of the 14 Northeast, Midwest and Western states running their own insurance exchanges have spent weeks on marketing and advertising campaigns to help residents get ready to buy health insurance. At least $684 million will be spent on publicity explaining what people need to do next and persuading the doubtful to sign up for coverage, according to data compiled The Associated Press.

Suspected Islamic extremists kill at least 44 students in attack on Nigerian college

POTISKUM, Nigeria — Suspected Islamic extremists attacked an agricultural college in the dead of night, gunning down dozens of students as they slept in dormitories and torching classrooms, the school’s provost said — the latest violence in northeastern Nigeria’s ongoing Islamic uprising.

The attack, blamed on the Boko Haram extremist group, came despite a 4 ½-month-old state of emergency covering three states and one-sixth of the country. It and other recent violence have led many to doubt assurances from the government and the military that they are winning Nigeria’s war on the extremists.

Provost Molima Idi Mato of Yobe State College of Agriculture told The Associated Press that there were no security forces protecting the college. Two weeks ago, the state commissioner for education had begged schools and colleges to reopen and promised they would be guarded by soldiers and police.

Idi Mato said as many as 50 students may have been killed in the assault that began at about 1 a.m. Sunday in rural Gujba. “They attacked our students while they were sleeping in their hostels. They opened fire at them,” he said, adding that most victims were aged between 18 and 22.

New commercial supply ship reaches space station after week’s delay, delivers food

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s newest delivery service made its first-ever shipment to the International Space Station on Sunday, another triumph for the booming commercial space arena that has its sights set on launching astronauts.

Orbital Sciences Corp.’s unmanned cargo ship, the Cygnus, pulled up at the orbiting lab with a half-ton of meals and special treats for the station astronauts who assisted in the high-flying feat.

With the smooth linkup, Orbital Sciences of Virginia became only the second company to accomplish such a far-flung shipment. The California-based SpaceX company took the lead last year.

NASA officials along with White House representatives declared it a historic day.

“It was just a very, very impressive job … I just couldn’t be happier and more proud,” said the NASA manager overseeing this commercial effort, Alan Lindenmoyer.

By wire sources