State will take part in federal health care exchange

November 28, 2012

Governor Jan Brewer told the Obama administration Wednesday she’s not interested in setting-up a state run health exchange, one of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The state instead is going to take part in a federally operated exchange, according to the Governor’s spokesman Matt Benson.

Brewer is a vocal opponent of the law known colloquially known as Obamacare. But she’s also a vocal opponent of the federal government getting too involved in state business. Brewer had to balance those concerns when deciding whether Arizona would run its own health exchange or take part in a federally-run exchange.

“The Governor generally prefers local control over an autocratic federal approach, but in this instance, considering the cost that the state would have to incur, the uncertainty that remains throughout this system with the Affordable Care Act, and the lack of authority that the state would ultimately have over the system, she thought it was better just to leave it to the federal government and let them sort it out," Benson said.

Benson said after extensive discussion the Governor decided to let the feds take the lead, especially because "a state exchange, in the Governor’s view, would be a state-operated entity in name only."

Although the feds provide start-up money to states, a study the Governor’s office commissioned found running the exchange could cost Arizona up to $40 million a year. In a statement, Brewer reiterated her belief that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed and replaced with legislation that would improve access to quality, affordable health care.

Several Democrats in the Arizona Legislature decried the Governor's decision. House Minority Leader Chad Campbell issued a statement calling the move "irresponsible."

"The state has already spent millions of dollars developing the infrastructure to support the exchange," Campbell said. "The governor is going to throw that all away so she can push an extremist agenda."

The deadline for states to decide whether to create health care exchanges is Dec. 14.

Updated 11-28-12 4:06 p.m.

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