Wash. Senate passes health care exchange bill

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The Senate has approved a bill to foster the implementation of the insurance exchange associated with the federal health care overhaul.

The measure passed Thursday on a near party line 27-22 vote, with one Republican voting in support. The House passed the bill last month, but because the Senate amended the measure it now heads back to the House for concurrence.

Democrats who supported the bill said it would help ensure that the state is ready to comply with the federal rules when they go into effect in 2014. Opponents argued government involvement in the insurance industry would raise costs.

President Barack Obama's health care overhaul has been challenged in the courts. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the case later this month, with an outcome expected in late June.