Brewer postpones decision on healthcare act - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Brewer postpones decision on healthcare act

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Gov. Jan Brewer Gov. Jan Brewer
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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Gov. Jan Brewer was expected to make a big announcement Friday that would impact millions of Arizonans.

Instead, the governor has decided to postpone her decision on the Affordable Care Act.

States had until Friday to decide whether to set up their own health insurance exchange as part of the federal government's new healthcare law.

It would mean that Arizona would establish an internet-based marketplace for consumers and small businesses to purchase health insurance, or do nothing, and let Arizonans use the system the federal government creates.

Late Thursday afternoon, Brewer's office announced that the governor would postpone her decision after the federal Department of Health and Human Services extended until mid-December a deadline for states to make exchange declarations.

A Brewer representative said that the governor hopes the federal government will provide additional information and guidance that Brewer and other governors have been seeking on implementation of the health law.

Pete Wertheim is with the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

He told CBS5 that his organization is in favor or Arizona "opting in" to the program, insisting that patients here will receive better care if the program is run on a more local level.

"If we need to change something, we can customize it," said Wertheim. "We think we can do a better job than the federal government would in figuring out what kind of exchange works best for Arizona and our unique needs."

A number of Arizona business leaders and healthcare officials have met with the governor recently and spoken openly about the benefits of Arizona setting up its own healthcare marketplace.

However, there are a number of conservative state lawmakers who see any cooperation with the federal government as a sign of support for the Affordable Care Act.

Nick Dranias, with the Goldwater Institute, told CBS5 that the governor will be making a mistake by "opting in" to the program.

Dranias said that an Arizona exchange will cost taxpayers millions of dollars, kill jobs and penalize employers, not to mention holding the state responsible if the system fails.

"I think it's not wise for the state to take the fall, to take all the costs and take all the heat for this horrible policy that the federal government wants to implement," said Dranias. "If the federal government wants this policy implemented, they should do it themselves."

Arizona has already received more than $30 million in federal grants to set up its own health insurance exchange.

It is unclear exactly what the cost will be to Arizona.

So far, at least 10 states, including Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, have opted out of the health insurance exchange for philosophical reasons.

Copyright 2012 KPHO (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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