Legislation expected to clear the 2013 General Assembly before its scheduled adjournment in nine days would give the bureau authority to conduct plan management activities in support of the federal health overhaul; collect and analyze information on plan rates, benefits and cost-sharing; ensure plan compliance and resolve consumer complaints; provide technical assistance and decertify providers when necessary.
Virginia Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Hazel said that since the federal government will run Virginia's program "it can take our recommendation or ignore it."
Joel Ario, who formerly headed the Obama administration's office for health insurance exchanges, said McDonnell appears to be looking for a way to stay in the game as the health care overhaul rolls out next year, while stopping short of a partnership with Washington.
"Virginia found an accommodation that helps consumers without entanglements the state wanted to avoid," said Ario, now a managing director Manatt Health Solutions, a consulting firm.
There are an estimated 1 million uninsured residents in Virginia, many of whom could get coverage. The Obama administration had no immediate reaction.
AP health care writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.