States challenging President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, saying a federal appeals court didn’t go far enough when it invalidated a portion of the law.

Adding to calls for the high court to determine the fate of the law, the 26 states, led by Florida, said today the entire measure should be invalidated. The Justice Department signaled earlier this week that it will file its own Supreme Court appeal in the case.

The Atlanta-based appeals court gave the states a partial victory in their suit challenging the law, ruling that Congress lacked the constitutional power to require people to either get insurance or pay a penalty. At the same time, the court said it would strike down only the insurance mandate, leaving intact other provisions, including a requirement that insurers accept applicants with pre-existing conditions.

There is “compelling evidence that Congress intended the mandate to function as the act’s essential lynchpin and would never have passed the act without it,” the states argued in a Supreme Court filing.

The states are also asking the high court to review the law’s expansion of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health-care program for the poor. The appeals court upheld that provision, rejecting contentions that it improperly coerces states into spending additional money.

Pending Appeals
The states asked the high court to move quickly to review the Affordable Care Act, as the law is known. With three appeals now pending — and a federal government appeal due in mid- November — the justices could consider the case early next year and rule in June.

“Time is of the essence,” the states said in their filing. “States need to know whether they must adapt their policies to deal with the brave new world ushered in by the ACA.”

The Justice Department is scheduled to file a brief today in a separate Supreme Court case related to the health-care law. In that dispute, a Michigan public interest law firm is seeking review of a different appeals court’s conclusion that the law is constitutional.

A small-business trade group, the National Federation of Independent Business, filed its own appeal earlier today, also asking the high court to invalidate the law.

The states’ case is Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Bloomberg News


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