House Advances Health Care Exchange Bill

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The Vermont House has given preliminary approval to a bill under which the state would take the next big step on a path to sweeping health insurance reform passed in broad outline last year.

The measure advanced last night on an 82 to 40 vote. It would set up a state-managed health insurance marketplace, known as an exchange, in compliance with federal law.

But Vermont’s version of the exchange called for under the federal health overhaul would go further than most. It would be used as a springboard for moving the state toward a government-run single-payer health insurance system by decade’s end.

Democratic backers say the bill would help individuals and families afford health insurance and would give small businesses the option of no longer providing employee health insurance. Key Republican amendments were defeated easily.

The measure is expected to come up for final House action today before moving to the Senate.

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