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Maryland House Approves Healthcare Exchange Stopgap

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Lawmakers in Annapolis still have to reconcile differences between the Senate and House bills.
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Lawmakers in Annapolis still have to reconcile differences between the Senate and House bills.

The Maryland House of Delegates has approved an emergency bill to aid residents who tried to sign up for coverage on the state's healthcare exchange website but couldn't because of technical problems.

The House passed the bill by a 94-42 vote. Republicans like Anthony O'Donnell of southern Maryland all opposed the bill. He says the measure could end up being very costly and feels it does nothing to ensure the exchange website will be functional by the March 31 deadline, the same date the temporary coverage offered in the bill runs out.

"The people who screwed this up are not being held accountable," O'Donnell says. "They're being offered a blank check by our taxpayers to pay for their screw-ups. There's no accountability here."

Gov. Martin O'Malley sought the bill as the problems with the exchange have been a political embarrassment for him and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who's running to succeed O'Malley next year. The measure now goes back to the state Senate, which approved a different version of it already and must now approve changes the House made.

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