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Mr. Peace, calling it a “long road to hoe,” said he wasn’t sure that the legislation would be approved this year — but that he wanted to get the conversation started.

“A lot of like-minded people are out there that are tired of being labeled as ‘the people of no,’ ” he said. “This is an attempt to be proactive and try to find a framework.”

Wake Forest University law professor Mark Hall, an analyst on health care policy, said a larger political movement is afoot not just to repeal the law, but to replace it.

“The idea of giving states an option would be politically appealing,” he said. “One advantage of bringing this to Congress is if you get congressional blessing, you might get federal funding for it. Rather than waiting for Congress to devise these measures, I see some advantage to the states getting together themselves and presenting a package sort of ideas to get approval and funding.”

But Matthew Spalding, vice president of American studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the compact clause was not designed for such a purpose.

“You’re using a clause that was meant to be used in a situation where a small number of states are working together to essentially do comprehensive national legislation,” he said. “The folks that are behind the compact movement are well-meaning. … The concern is that they’re grasping for a silver bullet, which just isn’t the way they think it might be.”

The inherently political nature of the issue has other opponents deriding the notion of a compact as merely another loud, fruitless way for Republicans to vent over the law.

Delegate Patrick Hope, Arlington Democrat, has introduced legislation that would set up a health insurance exchange in Virginia based on the recommendations of the Virginia Health Reform Initiative, a collection of lawmakers, business leaders and administration officials who worked for months to craft recommendations on how to implement the law in the state.

Mr. Hope said that if the compact provided all the benefits that the federal law would, he would take a look at it — but he appeared skeptical.

“I understand that people want to wait until the Supreme Court decision,” he said. “We’re here. I’m ready to do the work, and I hope Delegate Peace will roll up his shirtsleeves and help out.”

Republicans have also introduced bills to set up an exchange, essentially a marketplace where consumers can shop for and buy various insurance plans, though it would be housed inside the State Corporation Commission. Democratic proposals have it operating as a self-sustaining, quasi-governmental entity.

Sen. Mark Obenshain, Harrisonburg Republican and Senate chairman of the General Assembly’s Conservative Caucus, agreed with Mr. Peace in saying that taking steps to set up an exchange would be “premature.”

Mr. McDonnell also thinks passing legislation to set up an exchange is not necessary during this session.

“There are too many variables and unanswered questions from the federal government that would make establishing a health benefit exchange at this time to be inefficient, costly, and unfocused,” spokesman Jeff Caldwell said. “If the requirement is upheld by the Supreme Court, then Virginia will be well positioned to move forward and establish a state-run exchange once more direction is made available from the federal level.”

States must indicate whether they intend to operate an exchange by January of next year.

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