Arizona health care exchange could hinge on election

Edited from Arizona Capitol Times

Gov. Jan Brewer is preparing to implement the state’s health care exchange – though she hasn’t officially decided whether or not the state should run the exchange, and hopes it won’t be necessary at all after the November election.

Don Hughes, the governor’s health care policy advisor, said Brewer hopes Mitt Romney is elected president and that Republicans get a majority in Congress and decide to repeal the federal health care law known as “Obamacare.”

Don Hughes, Gov. Jan Brewer’s chief policy adviser on health care

But should the election go the other way, Brewer is weighing her options between letting the federal government run the state’s exchange system and implementing a state-run exchange.

“We continue to push for a total repeal of the Affordable Care Act as the best way to go, but the governor realizes it is the law now, settled or unsettled,” Hughes said. “And we have taken some steps to comply with the law so that Arizona is ready to implement – if that’s the decision we decide to (make).”

Other panelists included Sen. Nancy Barto, Rep. Eric Meyer and Laurie Liles, president and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Barto emphasized that the state should “dig in our heels” and fight the federal health care law, saying the choice between letting the federal government run the exchange and running the state’s own exchange isn’t much of a choice at all; the state is still carrying out the federal law.

Meyer said that the state should move forward with the exchange as soon as possible to settle uncertainty in government, the health care industry and business. He said that making sure people have health care will ultimately reduce the costs of the system.

Liles said that her organization supports Arizona running its own exchange over allowing the federal government to control the program.

The state has until November 16 to decide whether to run a state-based insurance exchange system or let the federal government run Arizona’s exchange.

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