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WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has cleared Idaho and three other Republican-led states to build their own consumer-friendly insurance markets.

A spokesman for Idaho Gov. C.L. Butch Otter says the approval gives the state a say in how the process will work, instead of having the federal government dictate it.

The legislature still has to weigh in.

With open enrollment for millions of uninsured Americans just nine months away the four GOP-led states became part of a group totaling 17 states plus Washington, D.C., that have gotten an initial go-ahead to build and run insurance exchanges. Seven were approved Thursday.

The federal government will set up and run the new marketplaces in states that opt out of playing any role.

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