Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has decided that the federal government and not the state will run the health exchange required under the new federal health law.

Beginning next year, health insurance will be available for purchase through the state health insurance exchanges, which are essentially marketplaces where consumers and small businesses may buy health insurance with federal subsidies. But it is up to states to choose a standard plan offered through their exchange.

The essential benefits package only applies to individuals and small groups of two to 50 employees. It does not apply to large group or self-insured companies.

U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democrat whose congressional district includes part of Tucson, says Brewer's decision to let the feds run the exchange is a missed opportunity to show some leadership on a major public policy issue.

"Fortunately, we have an administration and a federal government working tirelessly to provide the quality care Arizonans deserve," Grijalva said in a statement released today.

"The Department of Health and Human Services, in doing the work Gov. Brewer will not, is prepared to meet the unique health needs of Arizona’s changing population, and I look forward to working with the appropriate officials to see it happen in a fair, timely and cost-effective way.

 “Low-income Americans and racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to have health insurance than the population as a whole. That’s just reality. A strong health insurance exchange with quality products and reasonable prices is particularly vital for the people of Southern Arizona.”

 Separately from her choice not to establish an exchange, Brewer still must decide whether Arizona will accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage statewide.