Healthcare Business News

Feds seek quick review of Fla. judge's ruling

By Gregg Blesch
Posted: March 9, 2011 - 3:00 pm ET

The U.S. Justice Department has asked for expedited review of a judge's decision that the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is void because the provision requiring individuals to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.

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U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Fla., last week responded to a request for clarification of his sweeping Jan. 31 opinion with a combative order reiterating that it should be taken as the “functional equivalent of an injunction,” blocking further implementation of the law.

Vinson added, however, that he would stay the ruling pending the outcome of the appeals process as long as the Obama administration pursued expedited review from the U.S. Supreme Court or the circuit court, which the Justice Department's latest filing aims to satisfy.

In a motion filed in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the government writes that Vinson's finding that the individual mandate can't be separated from the broader law is “unprecedented” and “covers numerous provisions of the act already in effect.” The motion suggests April 18 as a due date for its opening brief, with a reply from the plaintiffs—which include officials representing 26 states—due by May 18.

Rulings on reform law challenges in Virginia, Detroit and Washington are likewise on expedited tracks in the circuit courts.

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