The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

November 8, 2012

Election clears path for Minnesota health exchange

(Continued)

Democrats will probably have competing visions of how to shape the exchange, with some embracing a more sweeping approach to health care and others focused on more prosaic details, said Kate Johansen, health policy manager for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce who serves on a state work group for the exchange's finances.

"The old conflict was Republicans are preventing legislation," she said. "Now the argument is, 'What legislation are we going to have?'"

Lawmakers won't have much time for those debates between the start of the legislative session in January and a March 31 deadline for a federal report that will determine whether Minnesota will get the ok to implement its own exchange.

Another issue that the state and federal governments have yet to resolve is exactly what health care services and procedures the plans sold through the state-created marketplace are required to offer. Until that question is answered, Jacobsen said it's difficult for health care plans to develop insurance products to sell on the exchange.

The exchange is envisioned as a Travelocity-like website where more than a million state residents will compare and buy health insurance plans, using subsidies if they qualify. It will also serve businesses.

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