KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hearing Scheduled This Week For Closely Watched Health Law Challenge In Florida

Lawmakers and others are closely watching a lawsuit brought in Florida by a pair of conservative Washington, D.C., lawyers that challenges the health reform law as bearing a possibility of what the future will bring for the overhaul. The Wall Street Journal reports that the suit, "filed in Florida by David Rivkin and Lee Casey, is one of a handful of challenges lodged against the law in recent months. Like Messrs. Rivkin and Casey's action, some of the suits argue that Congress doesn't have the Constitutional authority to require people to buy health insurance or face a fine, a key tenet of the legislation. But largely because the Florida lawsuit was lodged on behalf of 20 state attorneys general, it has become the most closely watched case in the ongoing political battle overt the health-care overhaul. … Legal experts are divided over the strength of their case, however, with many predicting it will sooner or later fail entirely. The Obama administration has lodged an early challenge to the suit, arguing that the Constitution's Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to pass the law" (Jones, 9/13).

Los Angeles Times: "But on the eve of the court hearing in Florida, some defenders of the law acknowledge that they are less confident that a judge will toss out the lawsuit entirely. The challengers 'feel they have a political tailwind behind them,' said Simon Lazarus, counsel for the National Senior Citizens Law Center. 'They are getting out their political message, and judges are affected by what's going on in society.' Florida Atty. Gen. Bill McCollum has chosen a favorable forum for the lawsuit. He filed the complaint in Pensacola, in the conservative northern district of the state, and it was assigned to U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, an appointee of President Reagan. From there, the case would probably move to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which also has a conservative reputation. … In this week's hearing, Judge Vinson will hear arguments on whether to dismiss the suit or move toward a ruling on the constitutionality of the law" (Savage, 9/13).

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