Lawmakers Unveil Health Insurance Exchange Legislation

By KBJR News 1

January 9, 2013 Updated Jan 9, 2013 at 10:44 PM CST

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A Bi-partisan group of Minnesota lawmakers unveiled legislation Wednesday that would establish a Healthcare Exchange in the state.

The program, established under the federal affordable healthcare act, is a new online marketplace at which Minnesotans will be able to choose health insurance.

DFL State Representative Joe Atkins and DFL Senator Tony Lourey are the authors of the bill and say by 2016 roughly 300,000 currently uninsured Minnesotans will gain coverage through the exchange.

They say 200,000 small businesses would also benefit from the program.

"Minnesota has a unique and historic opportunity to lead the country in health reform, and help roughly 300,000 uninsured Minnesotans gain coverage by 2016," said Sen. Lourey. "A Minnesota-based exchange allows Minnesota the opportunity to modernize our public systems. With this exchange, we can ensure that Minnesota moves forward in providing individuals with access to affordable, quality health care."

The legislation is co-authored by two leading House Republicans: Rep. Greg Davids (R – Preston), the GOP Lead on the House Tax Committee, and Rep. Jim Abeler (R – Anoka), GOP Lead on the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.

Minnesota must pass health exchange legislation by March 31, 2013, to avoid having a federally-run health exchange imposed on the state.

Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL- Duluth) is the Chair of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee and says there is a lot of work to be done.

"Time is running out on the Insurance Exchange," he said. "That’s got to be ready by February and it’s not ready yet."

The Minnesota Management and Budget received conditional approval from the Federal Government in December.

Kevin Jacobsen
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