Florida Judge Issues Stay of Health Ruling

By: - March 7, 2011 12:00 am

FAST TRACK: The Florida judge who declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional in January agreed last week to stay the decision, provided the federal government files an appeal of the case within seven days. Meanwhile, Judge Roger Vinson said states should work to implement the act while the case moves to the U.S. Supreme Court. Florida, joined by 25 other states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, is suing the federal government in an attempt to overturn the health care law. 

MINUS $1 MILLION: After Vinson issued his stay, Alaska ‘s Republican Governor Sean Parnell changed his mind and agreed that his state will start implementing the Affordable Care Act. Earlier, Parnell had refused to do so. But because a key deadline had passed, Alaska will not get the $1 million federal grant every other state received to start building a health insurance exchange, and it may have to forfeit additional federal money set aside for state insurance exchanges. “We will begin moving forward with state funds, rather than federal funds,” The Anchorage Daily News reported Parnell’s spokeswoman saying.

STATE FLEXIBILITY:  GOP governors were mostly unimpressed with President Obama’s announcement last week that he would support a bipartisan amendment to the Affordable Care Act allowing states to opt out of many of its requirements as early as 2014. The proposal would allow waivers from the law three years earlier than is currently allowed. To qualify, states must show that their own health care plans will provide a similar level of benefits to at least as many people, at similar rates, without costing the federal government more money. At a congressional hearing the day after the announcement, Mississippi ‘s Republican Governor Haley Barbour said he wanted total control over the state’s health care dollars. “We shouldn’t have to kowtow and kiss the ring” to make changes that will work for Mississippi residents,”  National Public Radio reported him saying.

PROGRAMS GONE: Budget pressures have forced at least two states to drop state-funded health insurance programs for low-income adults who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Pennsylvania ‘s new Republican Governor, Tom Corbett, last week shut down a program covering more than 41,000 adults, and Washington ‘s Democratic Governor, Christine Gregoire, recently ended coverage for more than 17,000 adults, The New York Times reported . Some 250,000 people in Arizona could meet the same fate if Republican Governor Jan Brewer moves forward with her proposal to drop childless adults from the state’s Medicaid program.

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Christine Vestal

Christine Vestal covers mental health and drug addiction for Stateline. Previously, she covered health care for McGraw-Hill and the Financial Times.