Arizona moves forward with new health insurance exchange

Arizona has received millions of dollars in grant money to form and implement health exchanges.

Arizona moves forward with new health insurance exchange

CREATED Mar 26, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- While Arizona is fighting the new health-care law -- preparations are already underway -- in case the state loses.  Millions of dollars have been earmarked for the next steps. One of those includes a new health insurance exchange that might have the most wide-reaching impact.

"I think this is something we're very interested in," said president of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Lea Marquez Peterson. She says she's always looking for more affordable health care options for the chamber's struggling small business members.

"Often times health insurance is still something that hasn't been put back in place," she said. The state is now laying the groundwork for a new health insurance exchange that is designed to do just that -- provide affordable insurance to the estimated one million Arizonans who lack coverage.

The exchange could give the state greater negotiating power to not only bring down coverage costs -- but also compete for higher quality care. The Arizona Public Interest Research Group is encouraged by the state's move to take control of the exchange, but the group's executive director, Diane Brown, said a close eye is being kept on how it's being crafted.

"Critical will be making sure that the exchange is transparent, accountable and responsive to consumers interest and provides consumers with a one-stop shop with easy comparisons of various plans," said Brown.

To lay the groundwork, the state has secured two federal grants worth nearly 31 million dollars -- and has begun work on building the technology foundation. In the meantime, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce plans to get the word out about this latest health insurance option.

"It's something we'll educate our members about.we're looking at doing a workshop in the near future on healthcare reform and what it means for your business," said Marquez-Peterson.

The Corondelet Health Network is also trying to educate small businesses about health care reform -- including the exchange option. It has created an "actual factual booklet" that it plans to distribute to small businesses in the very near future.