DFLer to introduce state health insurance exchange bill

Rep. Joe Atkins
Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, discusses the health insurance exchange program at the Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., Monday, Jan. 30, 2012.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

A DFL state lawmaker from Inver Grove Heights says he'll introduce legislation to establish one of the central parts of the federal health care law: a state insurance exchange.

An exchange is an Expedia.com-like marketplace where consumers and small businesses will be able to compare and buy health insurance policies.

Rep. Joe Atkins said he'll author a bill based on recommendations from a health insurance task force that's been meeting for about the past two months. A bill to create an exchange failed last session but Atkins said he's not deterred.

"The hope is and my expectation and the positive feedback that I've gotten from members on the other side of the aisle makes me very optimistic that we can get this done in a bi-partisan fashion this year," Atkins said.

Atkins, an attorney and member of the governor's exchange task force, said an exchange will help rein in the cost of insurance.

"Every dollar a business like mine saves on health insurance is a dollar we can put towards growing our business and towards hiring people," Atkins said. "It's why the small business that I know so desperately want to get a health exchange done."

Some state Republican leaders say they won't "rubber stamp" the governor's exchange legislation but may provide legislation of their own.

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