Justice department wants ACA to stand during appeal
The U.S. Justice Department has filed a request to have a federal judge in Florida declare that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will remain valid while his decision to void the law is appealed. The Obama administration’s motion cites the risk of extreme disruption to states and businesses that are busy implementing various aspects of the law. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled Jan. 31 that the law’s mandate for individuals to buy private insurance by 2014 was unconstitutional, and therefore invalidated the entire law. Federal lawyers have said they plan to appeal the ruling, but officials in several states have announced that they will not implement the law because Vinson said they don’t have to. Vinson declined to issue an injunction against the law, but his opinion said his declaratory judgment on the matter was “the functional equivalent of an injunction” for the parties that prevailed. However, government lawyers say several other areas of Vinson’s opinion appeared to contradict that position, and they don’t intend to stop implementation of the entire law based on a district court’s decision regarding an insurance provision that doesn’t take effect until 2014. Vinson gave the plaintiffs’ lawyers three business days to respond to the government’s request for the clarification.