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Final health gap bill awaits signature

ANNAPOLIS — The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to an amended bill that will provide emergency insurance coverage to people who had trouble signing up through the state’s health care exchange website.

O'Malley State of the State

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley delivers his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature in Annapolis, Md., Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The upper body voted 34-7, mostly along party lines, to concur with a version of the bill that was amended and passed by the House of Delegates just 24 hours earlier.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has indicated he will sign the bill Thursday morning.

Under the bill, between 200 and 5,000 people — estimates vary widely — will be covered retroactively through a high-risk state insurance pool called the Maryland Health Insurance Program.

The cost of the program was initially estimated to be between $5 million and $12 million, but the exact cost is unknown.

Some Republicans in the House said costs could run in the $100 million range — an estimate that was not refuted by some top Democrats.