Friday, March 4, 2011

Obama Administration Gets Seven Days To Appeal Repeal Ruling

Phew! Now those implementing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act can breathe easier—Florida Judge Roger Vinson has delayed his order repealing the entire law and generously granted the Administration of Barack Obama seven days (count them) to appeal his ruling before it takes effect. Assuming the appeal is made, implementation of the law will continue until the case is resolved.

You may recall that Mr. Vinson made his ruling in response to claims made by Florida and 25 other states. In late January, Mr. Vinson issued his original order. Subsequently, the Obama Administration asked Mr. Vinson for a clarification as to whether he intended that the federal government cease implementing the law. In issuing the delay, Mr. Vinson “clarified” that his original order indicated the law could not be implemented.

In a sharp rebuke, Mr. Vinson said that he had not expected that the Administration “would effectively ignore the order and declaratory judgment for two-and-one-half weeks, continue to implement the Act, and only then file a belated motion to ‘clarify.’”

Nonetheless, Mr. Vinson said, “I agree that it would indeed be difficult to enjoin and halt the Act’s implementation while the case is pending appeal. It would be extremely disruptive and cause significant uncertainty.”

Mr. Vinson then concluded, “As both sides have repeatedly emphasized throughout this case, the Act seeks to comprehensively reform and regulate more than one-sixth of the national economy. It does so via several hundred statutory provisions and thousands of regulations that put myriad obligations and responsibilities on individuals, employers, and the states. It has generated considerable uncertainty while the constitutionality of the Act is being litigated in the courts. The sooner this issue is finally decided by the Supreme Court, the better off the entire nation will be. And yet, it has been more than one month from the entry of my order and judgment and still the defendants have not filed their notice of appeal.”

Thus, Mr. Vinson conditioned his delay upon the Administration filing its “anticipated appeal within seven (7) calendar days of this order and seeking an expedited appellate review, either in the Court of Appeals or with the Supreme Court.”

Some of the states involved in the case had delayed beginning implementation of portions of the law. After Mr. Vinson’s stay, at least one of those states, Alaska, finally decided it had better begin the process. In delaying implmentation, Alaska lost its opportunity to get $1 million in federal health care assistance. Money talks both ways.

For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the full text of the law and additional information on health reform implementation and other recent developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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