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Insurance Exchange Clears Colorado Senate

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(credit: AP)

(credit: AP)

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DENVER (AP) - Colorado Republicans are closer to facing a tough call on an insurance proposal that GOP business allies support but others decry as a move to embrace the federal health care law.

The Democratic Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would set up a state exchange, allowing individuals and small businesses to pool together to seek lower health care premiums. Supporters point out that states that don’t set up exchanges will simply be assigned one by the federal government in future years and say Colorado should act now to craft its own exchange.

But Senate Republicans were united against the idea Wednesday. Some argued unsuccessfully that Colorado is simply playing along with flawed federal health plans.

“The exchange idea is something that is being forced upon us by federal legislation,” said Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs.

Democrats overruled the GOP and passed the exchange 20-15 in a party-line vote. That sets up an interesting second act for the health exchange bill in the House.

The House is ruled by Republicans, and GOP leader Amy Stephens is a co-sponsor of the proposal. Stephens later said she would support the exchange plan only if Colorado also seeks a waiver from other provisions of the health care act. She says she is working to come up with an exchange plan both parties accept.

But many House Republicans may resist. The chamber’s third-ranking Republican, Rep. Mark Waller, said he’s still undecided on the measure.

“I’m still researching it and trying to figure out what I’m going to do,” Waller said.

But he pointed out that the Republicans’ slim one-vote majority in the House means the exchange measure doesn’t need Republican there to agree, anyway.

“I at least assume that most of the Democrats are going to support it so it can pass without a ton of Republican support,” he said.

- By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer (AP Writer Ivan Moreno contributed to this report)

Senate Bill 200

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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