Lawmakers Advance Bill to Set Up State Exchange

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By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lawmakers in the Iowa Senate have granted preliminary approval to legislation creating a state-based health insurance marketplace.

The bill won subcommittee approval Tuesday. Under the proposal, the state would establish an online exchange run by a nonprofit agency by the beginning of 2016.

Iowa currently has a partnership exchange with the federal government where consumers can shop for health insurance and apply for federal aid to pay for benefits. The bill's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch, says that arrangement will expire by 2016. He says a state-run exchange could be more cost effective and provide more flexibility.

The bill moves next to the full Commerce Committee in the Democratic-majority Senate. Hatch says he isn't sure if the bill will be supported in the Republican-controlled House.

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