Abortion ban left out of final health exchange bill

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An amendment that bans abortion coverage was nixed from the final version of the Minnesota health exchange bill, MPR reports.

A House-Senate conference committee approved the bill that could be debated on the House floor as soon as Thursday evening.

The option of whether to cover abortions will be up to the insurance companies, Pioneer Press says.

The Minnesota health exchange is a key component of the national health care overhaul that establishes an online marketplace to comparison shop for health insurance. More than one million Minnesotans are expected to use the exchange to purchase coverage.

The panel also settled on a way to fund the program that's expected to cost the state $60 million a year by 2016. The bill includes a 1.5 percent user fee on premiums in 2014. The fee will increase to 3.5 percent the following year.

All plans that meet state and federal requirements can be sold on the exchange.

The fast-moving measure will need to be finalized by the end of March for the exchange to be up and running in October.

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