SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate has approved a measure that would create a state-governed "insurance exchange" so individuals and small businesses can shop for health care coverage as required by President Obama's health law.
Lawmakers voted Thursday 37-19 to send the House a bill establishing the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace.
The exchange will guide people through the purchase of health and dental plans. It will also help qualified businesses enroll employees in health insurance plans.
The Affordable Care Act requires that nearly all Americans have health insurance beginning in 2014 or pay a penalty. New marketplaces are scheduled to be operating by October.
Illinois will begin an exchange this year through a federal partnership. Gov. Pat Quinn hopes to establish a state-run marketplace for 2015.
Among the witnesses testifying for the Republican plan Monday in a House committee were officials representing medical clinics, hospitals and business groups. Some of those same people have stood by Democrats in recent weeks as they embraced a proposed Medicaid expansion for lower-income adults.
But Missouri's Republican-led committees have repeatedly defeated the Medicaid expansion backed by Obama and Democrats.
The alternative by Republican Rep. Jay Barnes would cover fewer additional adults than Obama's version while also removing some children from the Medicaid rolls. Medicaid recipients would be covered through competitively bid managed care policies and could get cash incentives for holding down their health expenses.