END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (41 states)

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Short Cuts: HHS teams up w/shopping malls for #OE2; FL company under fire for using "Obamacare"; Healthcare CEO's threaten to turn on ACA

HHS is hitting the malls this weekend to make sure that Obamacare is on the minds of consumers during the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

The department on Wednesday will announce new partnerships it has made with retail stores, pharmacies and popular websites to spread the word about the current open enrollment season, which began on Nov. 15 and ends Feb. 15. On three key days after Thanksgiving — Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday — as well as dates beyond, Westfield Shopping Centers, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the XO Group will provide consumers with information about how they can sign up for coverage through the exchanges.

All over South Florida, the word “Obamacare” appears on building signs, vans, fliers, yard signs, business cards and placards twirled by streetside hawkers directing traffic to or advertising storefront insurance agencies trying to get clients signed up for health insurance.

But the insurance agency behind 11 of those storefronts, doing business as the Obamacare Help Center, is drawing the attention of the state Department of Financial Services because its business name includes the word “Obamacare.”

Major US corporations have broadly supported President Barack Obama's healthcare reform despite concerns over several of its elements, largely because it included provisions encouraging the wellness programs.

The programs aim to control healthcare costs by reducing smoking, obesity, hypertension and other risk factors that can lead to expensive illnesses. A bipartisan provision in the 2010 healthcare reform law allows employers to reward workers who participate and penalize those who don't.

But recent lawsuits filed by the administration's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), challenging the programs at Honeywell International and two smaller companies, have thrown the future of that part of Obamacare into doubt.