Senate in Oregon gives its last minute approval to state health insurance exchange

Oregon State Senate Health Care ReformThe Oregon Senate has given its overwhelming last minute approval for a measure toward the implementation of the state’s online health insurance exchange marketplace, which is the heart of the Obama administration’s healthcare reform and will provide individuals and small businesses a place to shop for coverage.

The vote on Monday was for a measure that was championed by Governor John Kitzhaber, and was passed by 55-5 for the rules that will govern the exchange. This will give the state the ability to build an insurance marketplace ahead of the 2014 federal deadline. The idea is to make health coverage easier and more affordable to obtain. It is also Kitzhaber’s hope that the exchange will also one day become available to more people as a part of the Medicaid system overhaul in the state.

On the other hand, the legislature was expected to adjourn as soon as Tuesday night. The House had been anticipating a vote on the bill in February, but there was a delay by the Republicans, who were hoping to set more job creation programs into place.

The bill had a tremendous amount of vehement support from business groups, including the Oregon Business Association and the Associated Oregon Industries.

House Bill 4165 will also help the exchange users to more easily discover whether or not the qualify to enroll in various programs or for certain tax credits. It is almost certain that the Governor will be signing that measure.

This vote follows closely on the heels of the Senate bill 1580, which had been signed by Kitzhaber and which will implement the Governor’s coordinated care organization plan, which will be used by providers for the treatment of members of the Oregon Health Plan.

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