A party-line vote Thursday in the Legislature's Insurance and Financial Services Committee defeated a bill to set up Maine's health insurance exchange. Per the federal Affordable Care Act, the exchange must be established by 2014.
Republicans voted against LD 1498, citing an ongoing challenge to the Affordable Care Act's constitutionality, according to the Bangor Daily News. Maine is one of 26 states arguing the act's requirement that all Americans buy health insurance by 2014 is unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on that challenge in June. The health insurance exchange allows businesses and consumers to shop for health plans. The committee also voted in favor of a bill that would allow only licensed insurance brokers to enroll people in health plans through a state exchange, in the event the act is upheld, according to the paper.
Maine in November was awarded $6 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help set up a health insurance exchange. The money will stay in a federal account until Maine requests it.