Appeals Court to Expedite Obama Healthcare Appeal

March 14, 2011

A U.S. Appeals Court agreed Friday to speed up the timetable for the Obama administration’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that struck down landmark healthcare overhaul law.

The Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta said it had “granted in part” the government’s motion to expedite the appeal and listed a schedule for legal briefs up until May 25.

Healthcare reform is the signature of Obama’s domestic policy and the fight over it is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

The government appealed Tuesday a decision in January by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida who backed arguments by 26 states that the law’s requirement that Americans buy health insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty was unconstitutional.

Vinson’s is one of two rulings that have found the individual mandate unconstitutional, but his was the only one that invalidated the entire healthcare law. A handful of judges in other states have dismissed legal challenges to the law.

Debate over the law enacted in 2010 was a significant factor in the revival of Republican fortunes and the party’s gains in congressional elections in November.

The government says it will continue to implement the law, which aims to expand health insurance to cover millions of uninsured Americans while also curbing costs. Officials insist it is needed to stem huge projected increases in healthcare costs.

The law includes provisions allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ healthcare insurance and prevents insurers from denying coverage for preexisting medical conditions.

An expedited schedule for the appeal would likely mean a foreshortened briefing period and an accelerated date for oral argument, said Charles Shanor, professor of law at Emory University in Atlanta.

(Writing by Matthew Bigg, editing by Philip Barbara)

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