A bill setting up an Alabama health insurance exchange passed the House Thursday and is on its way to the Senate for consideration. Consumer advocates won two key amendments to HB 245, which the House approved on a 92-0 vote. The measure now goes to the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee.
“The federal government has said we must create a health insurance exchange required by the Affordable Care Act by Dec. 31 or default to a federal exchange,” HB 245 sponsor Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, told his House colleagues. “It will be created. Either the state will develop it or else the federal government will come in and run it.”
The bill establishes the Alabama Health Insurance Marketplace and sets membership for the governing board that will develop operating rules. The one-stop marketplace will be a source where tens of thousands of uninsured individuals and small businesses can buy affordable health insurance coverage.
Alabama Arise and other advocacy groups succeeded in amending the bill to add two consumer advocates to the exchange governing board. Another amendment made meetings of the exchange board open to the public.
“Alabama needs a consumer-friendly health insurance exchange,” Arise state coordinator Kimble Forrister said. “These amendments give consumers a voice on the exchange board and an open window on its operation. We’ll work to make sure the Senate preserves those consumer protections.”
The Senate and the governor must approve the bill for it to become law.
Health insurance exchange bill passes Alabama House