Minn. House takes up health exchange billby Elizabeth Stawicki, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota House today begins what could be a marathon debate over a controversial and key part of the federal health care law.
More than 100 amendments have been offered on the bill authorizing an insurance exchange -- a new online marketplace for individuals and small groups to shop comparatively for health coverage starting in October.
The full state Senate could take up a similar exchange bill later this week. State Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake said Republicans won't vote for it.
"I will not be supporting and don't believe there are any Republicans in the Senate who'll be supporting the exchange as it goes forward. There are some significant problems," Benson said. "We've heard about the increase in cost, not just the $60 million that comes out the general fund in the Senate version but also a significant increase in premiums."
Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature as well as the governor's office. Supporters of the exchange say while some individuals will see premiums rise, federal tax subsidies will help cover most of those increases.
Some critics have argued that the insurance exchange required under the Affordable Care Act is a government takeover of health care. The House bill's chief author Rep. Joe Atkins, a DFLer from Inver Grove Heights disagrees.
"This is capitalism at its best. This is competition right on your computer screen between health insurance carriers having to fight for your business in a way that they haven't had to fight for it before," Atkins said.
The full Senate could take up a similar bill later this week.