Feb. 16--Legislators in the state House and Senate have introduced bills this week to create a health insurance exchange to comply with the federal overhaul of the nation's health care system.
A bill introduced today in the House of Representatives by Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, features bipartisan support, but that does not signal a breakthrough in crafting legislation that Republicans opposed last year.
The federal overhaul that Congress passed in 2010 calls on states to create health exchanges that are intended to be marketplaces -- largely online -- for individuals and small employers to purchase health insurance coverage starting late next year.
Last year, Republicans who control both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature did not pass a bill to create an exchange for Minnesota because many in the party want nothing to do with the federal health care law.
Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, said at a news conference Thursday that he also opposes the federal law, but is supporting the Atkins bill because he thinks Minnesota must comply with the overhaul -- at least for the time being.
"I'm not a supporter of ObamaCare," Davids said, using the term that many opponents use to describe the federal law. "(But) I believe in states' rights....I do not want the federal government to write our exchange for us."
The federal legislation calls on states to have plans for their own exchanges ready for certification by the end of 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court
is scheduled to hear arguments this year on the constitutionality of the health care overhaul.
Last year, Davids also supported legislation to create a health exchange in Minnesota, even though many in his part did not. He said Thursday he did not know of any Republicans who this year are newly supportive of passing a bill.
On Wednesday, Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, introduced a bill in the Senate that's the companion to the Atkins legislation. Both bills embrace recommendations from an advisory board on health exchanges that was created last year by Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat.
But Lourey said he currently has no Republican co-sponsors for his bill. And Senate Republicans have not introduced any health exchange legislation of their own.
Christopher Snowbeck can be reached at 651-228-5479. Follow him at twitter.com/chrissnowbeck.
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