If that deadline holds — several others have been extended as the law has rolled out — McDonnell said he intends to opt for the federal exchange, at least for now. That represents a shift for the governor, who previously said that if the law stood, he would prefer to have Virginia control its own exchange.

McDonnell said there are too many unanswered questions — how much a state-run exchange would cost, how well the federal version will work, whether the private sector might fill the niche — to move ahead on a Virginia exchange. He said his letters to President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, seeking clarification in a number of areas, have gone unanswered.

“I don’t want to buy a pig in a poke for the taxpayers of Virginia,” McDonnell said. “Without further information, the only logical decision for us is to use the federal option.”