Citing too many questions, costs with the State Health Exchange, Gov. Jan Brewer notified the Obama Administration on Wednesday that the State of Arizona will not pursue the creation of a state-based Health Exchange.
Instead, Arizona will participate in a federally-operated Exchange, according to the guidelines of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“This decision comes following an extensive research and outreach process during which my team of health advisors conducted public hearings and met with HHS, patient advocates and representatives of Arizona hospitals, health providers, insurers, tribal groups and other members of the health care community,” Brewer said. “This has been one of the more difficult decisions of my career in public service. My opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unwavering, as is my belief that it should be repealed and replaced with legislation that achieves its stated goals: to improve access to quality, affordable health care in this country. But I am also aware that the ACA remains the law of the land. Likewise, though I am a steady advocate of local control, I have come to the conclusion that the State of Arizona would wield little actual authority over its ‘state’ Exchange. The federal government would maintain oversight and control over virtually every aspect of our Exchange, limiting our ability to meet the unique needs of Arizonans and the Arizona insurance market.”
Brewer said a state Exchange would be costly. Though the federal government has pledged to pay nearly all startup costs, states that form their own health exchanges are on the hook for operational expenses beginning in 2015. Those costs could total $27 million to $40 million annually for the State of Arizona, according to a recent study conducted by Mercer, said Brewer.
Brewer’s decision was met with applause from Republicans, but left many Democrats confused.
Arizona Democratic Party Executive Director Luis Heredia said, “Governor Brewer’s decision to abandon a state-run health insurance exchange is another example of her partisan opposition and lack of cooperation to improve the lives of Arizonans. She has disregarded the advice of health care professionals and business leaders who have encouraged pursuit of a state-run exchange, and instead has caved in to Republican extremists and their attack of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Brewer is more concerned with political posturing than in trying to ease the burden on the more than 1 million Arizonans who are without health insurance.”
Arizona Senate President-Elect Republican Anny Biggs applauded the decision.
“I support the decision today by Governor Brewer that Arizona will not operate its own Health Insurance Exchange,” he said. “I appreciate her thoughtful deliberation and the research of the Governor and her advisers on the concept of an exchange run by the state. I concur with her opinion on the drawbacks of a state-created but federally-controlled exchange. Any exchange run by Arizona would still include an inappropriate imposition by the federal government on our state. While the Affordable Care Act is the mandate of the federal government, I remain unalterably opposed to the Act.”
This is not the first time Brewer has openly disagreed with the Obama Administration. Gov. Brewer and President Barack Obama have also openly disagreed on illegal immigration policy.