The Senate has given its preliminary approval to the 2012 health care bill.
The legislation establishes a consumer marketplace exchange that is part of the federal Affordable Care Act. All individuals and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees would be required to get their coverage from a policy sold on the Exchange beginning in 2014.
Federal tax credits would be available for individuals with incomes under roughly $40,000, couples with incomes up to $60,000 and a family of four with an income of less than $92,000.
Finance chairwoman Ann Cummins says the Exchange will offer similar policies from various insurance companies and she compared it to a travel website.
"It is a website that you go to and you can thumb through and you can see what insurance plans are out there and you can choose yours just like you can choose your flight," Cummings said.
Rutland Senator Peg Flory wanted to know why it’s mandatory for individuals and small businesses to buy their policies on the Exchange. She argued that insurance companies should be allowed to sell policies outside of this marketplace.
"If there’s no reason for anyone to purchase outside of the Exchange because the Exchange is so wonderful and such a good deal, why are we unwilling to leave that as an option?" Flory asked Cummings.
"To purchase outside of the Exchange Mr. President denies your employees the opportunity to receive the refundable federal tax credits and that is money that will come into this state and help fund the whole health care system," Cummings responded.
The bill is expected to come up for final approval in the Senate this afternoon.