States face a Friday deadline to tell federal officials whether they want to create their own health insurance exchange as outlined in the Affordable Care Act.
The governors, in Las Vegas for their annual meeting, Wednesday wrote a letter to Obama to ask for more time to decide, more guidance about the exchange program, and a meeting so the president and governors could talk, The New York Times reported.
"States are struggling with many unanswered questions and are not able to make comprehensive, far-reaching decisions prudently," the letter from association Chairman Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia, and incoming Chairman Bobby Jindal, Louisiana's governor, said.
So far, 17 states and the District of Columbia indicated they will create their own state-run exchanges. Other options include setting up a joint exchange with the federal government or allowing the federal government to do it.
All states are supposed to have an exchange by Jan. 1, 2014, when the healthcare law will require most Americans to have insurance. The exchanges are to begin enrolling people October 2013.
Republican governors were waiting for the outcome of the election since GOP candidate Mitt Romney vowed to overturn the healthcare reform legislation. Now, however, some Republican governors may be moving away from their opposition to the law, the Times said.
McDonnell noted while his state had been the first to sue to block the law, it would comply with it.
But he said the law's complexities and the lack of details from Washington, means "my best experts in Virginia, my doctors and others that are advising me on what to do, say they still can't make a prudent call between a state or federal exchange because we don't have all the answers."
While many GOP governors put off planning, some states -- including New Mexico, Nevada and Mississippi -- have quietly prepared, the Times said. Other states, including Alaska, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas, decided to let the federal government run an insurance exchange for them.