SHARECOMMENTMORE

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota House is debating a bill setting up Minnesota's health insurance exchange, with its sponsor calling it the most substantial changes to state healthcare policy in 50 years.

Debate in the House started Monday afternoon. The bill establishes a new state board to oversee an online marketplace where uninsured individuals and others can shop for and purchase private coverage. It's a centerpiece of the Obama administration's health care overhaul.

The goal is to cover 1.3 million Minnesotans. About 300,000 of those people currently lack insurance, another 600,000 are in a public program and several more hundred thousand are small employers who are supposed to be able to get a better deal than their current insurance.

Early in the debate, the House approved an amendment to prohibit abortions from being covered in plans sold on the exchange.