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Court Fight Over Health-Care Reform Shifts to Florida
Date:12/16/2010

By Karen Pallarito
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- A federal judge in Florida will start hearing arguments Thursday in the latest legal challenge to the constitutionality of a key provision of the nation's new health-care reform law -- that nearly all Americans must carry health insurance or face a financial penalty.

On Monday, a federal judge in Virginia sided with that state's attorney general, who contended that the insurance mandate violated the Constitution, making it the first successful challenge to the legislation.

The dispute over the constitutionality of the insurance mandate is similar to the arguments in about two dozen health-care reform lawsuits that have been filed across the country. Besides the Virginia case, two federal judges have upheld the law and 12 other cases have been dismissed on technicalities, according to Politico.com.

What makes the Florida case different is that the lawsuit has been filed on behalf of 20 states. It's also the first court challenge to the new law's requirement that Medicaid be expanded to cover Americans with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (about $14,000 in 2010 for someone living alone). That Medicaid expansion has unleashed a series of protests from some states that contend the expansion will overwhelm their already-overburdened budgets, ABC News reported.

The federal government is supposed to pick up much of the Medicaid tab, paying $443.5 billion -- or 95.4 percent of the total cost -- between 2014 and 2019, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, the news network reported.

The Florida lawsuit has been filed by attorneys general and governors in 20 states -- all but one represented by Republicans -- as well as the National Federation of Independent Business, an advocacy group for small businesses, Politico.com reported.

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