A workgroup focused on setting up a new health benefits marketplace is getting back to work next week with an expanded membership.
The marketplace, which would provide a choice of insurance policies to small businesses and individuals, is required by last year's federal health care law. If states don't set up their own exchanges, then the federal government will do it for them.
A bill that would set up a state exchange passed the House last year, but the Senate did not act on it.
The state's Republican leaders joined in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the requirement that individuals have health insurance. The issue is likely to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the meantime, the legislature told the state departments of insurance and health and human services to continue working on meeting requirements in the federal law.
Pam Silberman, president and CEO of the N.C. Institute of Medicine, said the group will lay the groundwork for the health care exchange start up. The institute is coordinating the workgroup activities.
"If the state decides to create its own state-based health care exchange, a lot of the pre-work can be done" and handed to the board that will run it, Silberman said.
Even if the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, the marketplace will still be useful for individuals and small businesses as a place where they can shop and compare costs and benefits of different plans, she said.