A D.C. board has voted to require individuals and small-business owners in the District to purchase their health insurance through the newly minted health exchange it oversees.
The D.C. Health Benefit Exchange board approved the regulations late Wednesday, with just one modification to shrink the size of businesses that would come under the regulation.
The exchange's chairman, Dr. Mohammad Akhter, has said that the requirement is necessary -- even for those who already have insurance -- in order to maintain a large pool of clients in the health exchange so that the exchange can negotiate rates with insurers.
"We have made a great start toward creating an exchange the District can be most proud of," Akhter said in a statement. "I look forward to creating an institution that aspires to ensure no Washingtonian will go without insurance."
The requirement would affect small businesses with 50 employees or fewer. The original proposal suggested businesses with 100 employees or fewer.
The D.C. Council will now be tasked with creating legislation putting the regulations into effect. That process will open up the topic again for public debate, giving opponents a chance to voice their concerns about potentially being forced to switch to a different insurer and higher rates.