MADISON, Wis. (WXOW) - Gov. Scott Walker has officially informed the Obama Administration that Wisconsin will not establish a state-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act.
Instead, he'll leave that responsibility to the federal government.
"In addition to the long-term concerns of the taxpayers, the reality is, no matter who sets up the exchanges or administers the exchanges, federal government makes all the decisions and the final product's still the same," Walker said during a phone press conference.
If the state runs the exchange, the long-term risks to the Wisconsin taxpayer is too high, the governor said.
"In the end, we chose the option that provides the creates amount of security, the greatest amount of protection, for the taxpayer in the state of Wisconsin," Walker said.
The health insurance exchange program is one part of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The exchange is described as an online marketplace where uninsured individuals and small businesses can compare their healthcare options.
States have three options in terms of running the program: Either the state controls it, the federal government takes control, or there is a partnership between the two.
"It's like saying you're gonna get a house," Walker said. "The federal government's gonna design the interior, all the amenities, the furniture, everything else, and the only thing left is they ask you whether you want blinds or curtains."
According to Walker, Wisconsin has already been successful providing health insurance to 90 percent of residents without this exchange. And, in the end, giving the federal government responsibility is just following the law.
Walker has been openly opposed to the Affordable Care Act.
He resisted implementing the law, first hoping the Supreme Court would outlaw it, then hoping Republican Mitt Romney would win the presidency and repeal the law. Neither happened.
Details about the exchange are not due to the federal government until Dec. 14.
The health insurance exchange is supposed to help people comply with the individual mandate that says everyone must by health insurance by 2014.
The exchange will go into effect January 2014.
But the effect of the health insurance exchange in Wisconsin is still unknown.
"I think it's really too early to tell at this point in time," said Michael Richards, executive director of Gundersen Lutheran's external affairs. "We haven't gotten a lot of guidance from the federal government to understand what they're exchange is going to look like."
Wisconsin has good, diverse health care offerings and the state needs to be sure that continues, Richards added.
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