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Vt Lawmakers Close To Finalizing How To Pay For Healthcare Exchange

Two years after Vermont began its quest for a healthcare exchange lawmakers say they finally have a good idea on how to pay for it.

At the Vermont statehouse Tuesday there was a lot of attention on what this year's budget would look like.

But for some there's a part of the following year's budget that was on their minds.

"I knew we were going to come up with money. It's always a bit of a puzzle to know how you're going to do it" said State Rep. Janet Ancel.

Ancel is referring to Vermont's new healthcare exchange a place where people can pick from multiple insurance plans in one location.

Before Tuesday lawmakers hadn't said how they would come up with the near $20-million dollars to fund it in 2015.

But now Ancel says it's looking like an employer assessment fee will take care of most of that.

She says for each employee that isn't offered insurance by his or her company or chooses not to sign up for the company plan the company will have to pay a more than $400 dollar fine.

That's for each employee.

It's something that's already in place to fund the current Catamount health program and would just continue.

Last week Governor Peter Shumlin said he wanted it funded by a 1% claims tax but was open to other options.

"I don't care much how about how we get it funded as long as we get it funded" said Shumlin.

While lawmakers have a pretty good idea of how the when we asked Governor Shumlin what he thought he says he needs every minute Tuesday before he makes his decision.

"You never know anything until you get the bill on your desk" said Shumlin.

The federal government needs to know soon how Vermont would fund the exchange.

That's why lawmakers say today was important to finalize a plan.

And remember we are just months away from starting the transition.

In October people can start to pick what plan they want.

It goes into place in January.

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