Health insurance: Vermont plan riles firms

Health insurance reform passes the Vermont House. But business group pushes back, saying health insurance choices would be limited.

Toby Talbot/AP
Speaker Shap Smith, center, talks with lawmakers about detail on a health-care bill Thursday in Montpelier, Vt. The Vermont House passed a bill that would set up a new health insurance exchange – or state marketplace for insurance coverage – in compliance with the federal health reform law passed two years ago.

A business group is panning major health insurance reform legislation passed by the Vermont House, saying it will limit choice for both businesses and individuals and may drive up costs.

But Democratic leaders in the House, who won final passage of the measure on Friday, say it will make healthcare more affordable for middle-class Vermonters. And they say businesses with 50 or fewer employees will have the option of dropping health insurance and letting those workers buy insurance with federal subsidies.

The National Federation of Independent Business — which has been skeptical of the reform legislation — says federal subsidies may not be forthcoming to the degree the bill's backers hope, given recent budget troubles in Washington.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

SEE ALSO: Four scenarios for health-care law's future

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