Florida Judge Rules Health Law Unconstitutional; Does Not Move to Stop Implementation

by Rebecca Farley on February 2, 2011

On Monday, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the portion of the health reform law requiring all individuals to have health insurance was unconstitutional. Unlike a previous judge who reached a similar decision, Judge Roger Vinson refused to sever the individual mandate from the rest of the law and instead struck down the entire health reform law.

Although Judge Vinson did not issue an injunction against continuing the implementation of health reform, some states who were parties to the lawsuit have hinted that his ruling means they do not have to carry forward with their planning for implementation. However, given that the Department of Justice will appeal the ruling, the fact that Judge Vinson did not expressly call for a halt to implementation, and the fact that all the states that are parties to the lawsuit have accepted millions of dollars in federal grants for the implementation of health reform, it appears unlikely that any state would institute a complete halt to its preparations for health reform. The Department of Justice is now considering whether it must ask for a stay of Judge Vinson’s ruling. The lawsuit will be appealed to the federal circuit court and is expected to eventually land before the Supreme Court for a final decision.

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