Judge Allows Reform Rollout To Continue as DOJ Pursues Appeal
On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson issued a stay of his ruling against the federal health reform law, permitting implementation of the overhaul to continue in the 26 states involved in the lawsuit while the Obama administration pursues an appeal, the New York Times reports (Sack, New York Times, 3/3).
However, in his ruling Vinson said that the administration must file its appeal within seven days and must request an expedited review from either the Supreme Court or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (Aizenman, Washington Post, 3/3).
On Jan. 31, Vinson ruled that the health reform law's individual mandate is unconstitutional, agreeing with the plaintiffs that it exceeds Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce. He added that the entire law is invalid because he concluded that the mandate is "inextricably bound" to other provisions in the law.
Despite invalidating the law, Vinson did not suspend further implementation of the overhaul, which the plaintiffs had requested. Vinson said that such an order is unnecessary because of a "long-standing presumption" that the federal government will comply with judicial rulings such as his.
The Obama administration on Feb. 17 asked Vinson to clarify whether his recent ruling against the federal health reform law and its individual mandate meant that further implementation of the law should be halted pending the outcome of an appeal (California Healthline, 2/24).
Vinson Chides Administration
On Thursday, Vinson wrote, "The sooner this issue is finally decided by the Supreme Court, the better off the entire nation will be." He added, "And yet, it has been more than one month from the entry of my order and judgment and still the defendants have not filed their notice of appeal."
Although Vinson in his original ruling wrote that it should be viewed as the "functional equivalent" of an injunction, halting implementation of the law, the Obama administration continued to put the law into place and states were unsure of how to proceed, according to the Times (New York Times, 3/3).
Administration Likely To Seek Appeal in 11th Circuit
The Obama administration likely will seek expedited review from the 11th Circuit court, rather than the Supreme Court, the Post reports.
Obtaining a direct appeal to the Supreme Court is unlikely, according to Department of Justice spokesperson Tracy Schmaler. The administration previously opposed an appeal by Virginia in a similar but separate case.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs in the multistate suit said they will not appeal to the Supreme Court (Washington Post, 3/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.