On Monday, the Minnesota House passed a bill formally recognizing the health insurance exchange mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
Lawmakers debated for five hours before approving the bill 72 to 58. The establishment of the bill brings Minnesota closer to creating an online marketplace where individuals and employers can shop for and purchase health insurance. The exchange is expected to serve 1.3 million state residents, 300,000 of whom are currently without coverage, according to The Associated Press.
The state’s governor will designate seven people to run the exchange, and the House and Senate will have to approve their appointment. Under the terms of the bill, the system’s $60 million operational costs will be paid for by a 3.5 percent fee on plan premiums, The Leader reports.
One of the most controversial topics discussed in the House on Monday was abortion. Lawmakers altered the bill to prohibit abortions from being covered by benefits plans sold in the exchange.
Meanwhile, several lawmakers expressed concern for the potential cost increases many insured Minnesotans may face. However, other representatives insisted the state’s families could save more than $1 billion using the system.
The Senate will discuss the bill Thursday.