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Q-and-A on Arizona health insurance exchanges

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PHOENIX (AP) -

This fall, new insurance markets called exchanges will open in each state under provisions of President Barack Obama's health care law. They'll offer private coverage and government aid to help pay premiums. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has rejected a state-run exchange, but is embracing an optional expansion of Medicaid that will help cover very low-income people.

Questions and answers about Arizona's exchange and Medicaid expansion.

Q: How many people are uninsured in Arizona?
A: According to an estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1.18 million of 6.5 million Arizonans did not have health insurance in 2011. That's 18 percent of the population.

Q: How many people in Arizona are currently served by Medicaid and how many more will be served under the Medicaid expansion?
A: Arizona currently covers about 1.27 million people through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's version of Medicaid, including 87,000 elderly in nursing homes and children enrolled in a special health insurance program known as KidsCare. An additional 300,000 are likely to get coverage if the Legislature agrees with Gov. Brewer's plan to expand coverage under provisions of the federal health care overhaul.

Q: How far along is Arizona in setting up an exchange?
A: Gov. Jan Brewer rejected the opportunity to set up a state exchange in November, citing costs and questions about how it would be operated.

Q: How much money has your state received from the federal government to do the initial work in setting up an exchange?
A: Brewer's administration accepted federal grants of approximately $31 million to pay for the advance work for the exchanges she ultimately rejected.

Q: How many people were projected to get insurance under the exchange?
A: According to a report prepared for Gov. Jan Brewer last year, an estimated 470,000 out of 621,000 eligible people were expected to be getting insurance through the exchange by 2016.

Q: So, what happens now?
A: The federal government will set up its own exchange to middle-income help Arizonans find health insurance. The governor's health care adviser says all the state has been told is that the government is working on the project. The government's own deadline is October.

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