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Health-Care Reform Faces Long Legal Fight
Date:12/14/2010

By Karen Pallarito
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A federal judge's ruling Monday that struck down a key component of the new U.S. health-care reform law -- that nearly all Americans carry health insurance -- marks the first successful challenge to the controversial legislation.

But the battle over the law, which has pitted President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats against Republicans, will continue to be fought in the federal court system until it finally reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps as early as next year, experts predict.

"Keep in mind this is one ruling by one federal district court. We've already had two federal district courts that have ruled that this is definitely constitutional," Obama said Monday during an interview with a Tampa, Fla., TV station.

"You've got one judge who disagreed. That's the nature of these things," he said.

Earlier Monday, a federal judge sitting in Richmond, Va., ruled that the health-care legislation, signed into law by Obama in March, was unconstitutional, saying the federal government has no authority to require citizens to buy health insurance.

The ruling was made by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, a Republican appointed by President George W. Bush who had seemed sympathetic to the state of Virginia's case when oral arguments were heard in October, the Associated Press reported.

But as the Washington Post noted, Hudson did not take two additional steps that Virginia had requested. First, he ruled that the unconstitutionality of the insurance-requirement mandate did not affect the rest of the law. And he did not grant an injunction that would have blocked the federal government's efforts to implement the law.

White House officials had said last week that a negative ruling would not affect the law's implementation because its major provisions don't take effect until 2014.

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