UPDATE 1-Virginia to sue U.S. over healthcare reform

* Virginia to file lawsuit after Obama signs bill into law

* AG: Congress lacks power to force insurance purchases

NEW YORK, March 22 (Reuters) - Virginia’s attorney general said he plans to sue the federal government over the healthcare reform legislation, saying Congress lacks authority to force people to buy health insurance.

Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, a Republican, said on Monday that Congress lacks authority under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce to force people to buy insurance. He said the bill also conflicts with a state law that says Virginians cannot be required to buy insurance.

“If a person decides not to buy health insurance, that person by definition is not engaging in commerce,” Cuccinelli said in recorded comments. “If you are not engaging in commerce, how can the federal government regulate you?”

Cuccinelli said he plans to file his lawsuit in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, after President Barack Obama signs the bill into law, which he is expected to do.

The bill requires most Americans to have health coverage, and provides subsidies to help lower-income workers afford it. [ID:nLDE62L01U]

No Republican voted for the bill, which passed the House on Sunday night by a 219-212 vote. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; editing by John Wallace)