AUGUSTA — A bipartisan legislative panel is beginning what’s expected to be a half-year study on the impacts of the federal health care reform law on Maine.

The 17-member committee began its work today. Its co-chair, Rep. Democratic Sharon Anglin Treat of Hallowell, says one of its biggest jobs will be setting up an exchange. That state-level insurance supermarket would help small businesses and individuals buy their own coverage to pool purchasing power.

Treat says the panel will recommend other legislation to bring Maine into compliance with the federal law and provide information on the law’s impacts on Maine businesses and consumers.

Republican Senate leader Kevin Raye of Perry says grasping the law’s impact is critical.

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