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Fate of Health Care Law Unclear

Florida judge rules health care law unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola ruled that Congress, in passing health care reform, overstepped its constitutional authority by requiring almost every American to purchase health insurance or pay a fee, beginning in 2014. The Justice Department is appealing the decision.

Still, it was unclear what will become of the law's popular benefits already in place, including help for older adults with prescription drug costs. The reactions of officials in the states that joined in the Florida lawsuit varied widely. A Wisconsin official declared the law "dead." Officials in other states planned to continue rolling it out. Legal scholars, too, were divided over the ruling's effect.

There have been three other lower-court rulings on the law, with two calling it constitutional and one siding with Vinson.

Senate Republicans forced a vote last month to repeal the law outright, the same measure the Republican-controlled House passed earlier this year. Repeal failed in the Senate, but Republicans are looking for other ways to gut the law. President Obama has offered to work with lawmakers to improve it.

Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president, said AARP was "deeply disappointed" that the court ruled against the law, "which is helping to ensure every American can get affordable health and long-term care."

Marsha Mercer, an independent journalist, writes from Washington, D.C.


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