Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida judge: States should move forward with federal health care law

Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson set a deadline of seven days for the Obama administration to file an appeal of his earlier ruling.

Associated Press (2007)

Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson set a deadline of seven days for the Obama administration to file an appeal of his earlier ruling.

A Florida judge who ruled the federal health care law unconstitutional says states must implement the law as they wait for President Barack Obama's administration to appeal the case.

"It would be extremely disruptive and cause significant uncertainty" to halt implementation, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson wrote in an opinion Thursday. "… The sooner this issue is finally decided by the Supreme Court, the better off the entire nation will be."

Several states, including Florida, had interpreted Vinson's January ruling to mean that implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should stop, so the federal government asked him to clarify.

Vinson chastised the Obama administration for delaying an appeal and set a seven-day deadline to file it. After that, his ruling could be viewed as an injunction, he wrote. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said it would file a notice of appeal promptly and seek an expedited ruling.

In Florida, which has already rejected two $1 million federal grants to help implement the law, the governor's office didn't budge, echoing Vinson in urging a fast-track appeal process to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We'll continue to review the full impact of the ruling," said Brian Hughes, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott.

Meanwhile, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi praised Vinson's original declaration that the law is unconstitutional.

"With this order from Judge Vinson, the 26 states and National Federation of Independent Business as plaintiffs are assured that there will be no more stalling from the federal government," she said.

Bondi's spokeswoman acknowledged Vinson's opinion meant implementation should continue.

"States must follow whatever requirements bind them within the health care act," Jennifer Davis said.

Jay Wolfson, a professor of health law at Stetson College of Law, said the Obama administration should have filed an appeal quickly, or at least asked for a stay of the judge's decision. Instead it waited weeks, then asked for a "clarification." The judge's frustration showed, Wolfson said.

"He didn't think it was courteous for them to have waited this long, and they say, oh, gee, could you clarify what you said?" Wolfson said. "… Under other circumstances, he might have held whoever the appellant would have been in contempt."

But it's in the administration's interest, he said, to draw out legal battles. The longer it takes, the harder it will be to undo the law's effects, and the more politically charged the atmosphere will be as the 2012 elections near. Many of the act's central provisions don't take effect until 2014, including requirements that most individuals obtain health insurance and that employers of a certain size offer coverage to workers or pay a penalty.

Vinson ruled the massive overhaul unconstitutional in January, saying the federal government had overstepped its authority to regulate interstate commerce by requiring nearly all Americans to carry health insurance.

He said lawmakers do not have the power to penalize citizens for not doing something.

But he wrote in Thursday's ruling that other judges will probably disagree with him.

"It is likely that the Court of Appeals will also reach divergent results and that, as most court-watchers predict, the Supreme Court may eventually be split on this issue as well," he wrote.

Still, he said, it is in the nation's best interest for states to continue following the law for now.

The health care law faces legal challenges from at least 27 states. Florida is the lead plaintiff in the 11th Circuit case, joined by 25 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Other states that joined Florida in the lawsuit were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Florida judge: States should move forward with federal health care law 03/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2011 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  3. Man injured when small helicopter crashes into Odessa home

    Accidents

    ODESSA — A small manned helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County on Monday, injuring a pilot, officials said.

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  4. State investigation cites multiple failures in death of Largo child

    News

    LARGO — It was sweltering in the bedroom of the Largo mobile home the day a child welfare case manager visited in July.

    Liz Rutenbeck, 24, poses with her son William in a Facebook photo. Baby William Hendrickson IV died while his mother was in jail after police said his father left ihim in a sweltering room.  A state investigation into the boy's death found multiple failures on the part of the child welfare system.
  5. 'Siesta Key' star punched in face, not sure who did it

    News

    TAMPA —Alex Kompothecras, cast member on MTV's reality show "Siesta Key," tells police he was punched in the face outside a bar in Tampa's SoHo district.

    Alex Kompothecras, Juliette Porter, Pauly Apostolides, Madisson Hausburg, Chloe Trautman, Garrett Miller, Kelsey Owens and Brandon Gomes pose for a photo in Siesta Key in June before the debut of the MTV reality series Siesta Key. [
EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]