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Aide says Brewer needs more answers on health law

Associated Press Modified: November 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm •  Published: November 23, 2012

PHOENIX (AP) — Just days after giving governors more time to declare whether states would commit to running online marketplaces for subsidized health coverage, the Obama administration released hundreds of pages of proposed rules on required benefits and other aspects of implementing the federal health law.

But Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer still has important unanswered questions about the health exchange, particularly about how a federally created exchange would work if the state were to choose that option, Brewer health policy adviser Don Hughes told The Associated Press.

The exchange will provide a digital on-ramp for middle-class households to obtain subsidized private insurance. That's part of the law's plan to provide health coverage for millions of Americans now without it.

Another part of the law that would provide coverage for more people expands the federal-state Medicaid program to provide its government-paid coverage to more low-income people.

Whether Arizona participates in the law's optional Medicaid expansion is another controversial decision facing Brewer further down the road, and one her staff has said she'll unveil in her January budget proposal or possibly sooner.

But a deadline on the exchange decision still looms. On that issue, it's a question of who creates the exchange, not whether one is created.

Amid many Republicans' continuing opposition to the overall law, there's debate over the exchange itself, including how costs would be split and how much leeway the federal government would give states on things like oversight.

The eventual outcome of those debates could help determine how favorable the exchange's design is to consumers and affected businesses such as health insurers.

While some states have already committed to running exchanges and others have said they won't, Arizona is among those still on the fence.

"A lot of governors are asking the same questions and asking for the same information," Hughes said.

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