A Democratic state lawmaker says Governor Walker’s decision not to set up a Wisconsin-based health care exchange is a missed opportunity.

The governor on Friday told federal officials that Wisconsin will take part in a federal health care exchange, rather than create its own or partner with federal officials to establish an exchange that’s required under the Affordable Care Act. State Representative Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee), the ranking Democrat on the Assembly Health Committee, says the decision is disappointing.

Richards says “it’s clear that Governor Walker chose the right wing of the Republican Party over the interests of Wisconsin health care consumers” with the decision.

In his letter to federal officials, the governor cited concerns about the possible financial burdens of a state-based exchange. Richards says that argument does not make sense though because the exchanges have to be self-sustaining by 2015 no matter who runs them. Also, Richards says Walker turned down nearly $40 million in federal money that would have helped the state set up a health care marketplace.

Richards says consumers are just getting the short end of the stick, since a federal exchange likely will not take into account the unique health care marketplaces that exist in Wisconsin.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:08)

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