Health insurance exchange measure sailing through Legislature

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A bill that aims to create an online marketplace for Minnesotans shopping for health insurance is breezing through the Legislature at a speed that surprises even some lawmakers, MPR reports.

The legislation would establish an Internet-based insurance exchange that would allow state residents to comparison shop for coverage and enroll in government plans. More than 1 million are expected to use the portal, including roughly 300,000 currently uninsured, the Star Tribune has reported.

Minnesota lawmakers got to work not long after the legislative session began last month.

For the exchange to be running by October, lawmakers are sticking to a timeline that requires finalized legislation by the third week in March, MPR notes. Lawmakers are moving it along quickly for such a complicated and controversial measure, MPR reports. The measure is expected to make its last stop in a state Senate committee this week, MPR reports.

Roadblocks remain. Among them is whether the seven-member board that would oversee the exchange should have the power to bar a health plan from being offered it, MPR notes. Also, the House and Senate bills differ on funding, the Pioneer Press reported.

If lawmakers don't have a finalized bill for Gov. Mark Dayton by the end of March, the federal government likely would operate at least part of the exchange upon its launch.

The creation of the health exchange is rooted in the federal Affordable Care Act, and became law in March 2010. It called for the establishment of a federal health insurance exchange but gave states the option to create their own.

Here's the state's website on the health insurance exchange.

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Dayton: Health insurance exchange may require Legislature's help

Gov. Dayton on Monday said legislation may be necessary to set up the state's health insurance exchange program. He says his administration is still going over the finer points of the federal law and does not yet know whether a bill from the Legislature would be absolutely necessary. Regardless, he says he's hoping for Republicans' cooperation going forward.