McDonnell opts for federal health exchange

RICHMOND — Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) informed federal health officials Friday that Virginia will not set up its own health insurance exchange, and at least initially will rely on the one Washington will create under President Obama’s health-care law.

The exchange is an online marketplace through which people can shop for health insurance provided by the law.

McDonnell had long said Virginia, the first state to sue over the Affordable Care Act, would rather set up its own exchange than rely on something created in Washington. But more recently, he said he was leaning toward a federal exchange because the government had not provided enough information to determine if a state-based one made financial sense.

“If Virginians are faced with running a costly, heavily regulated bureaucratic exchange without clear direction from Washington, then it is in the best interest of our taxpayers to let Washington manage an exchange at this time,” McDonnell said Friday, the deadline for notifying Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of his decision.

McDonnell is still considering creating a hybrid exchange that blends the federal system with a state-based one. He has until Feb. 15 to decide.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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