Judge denies federal government more time to respond to health reform challenge

No more time will be granted to the federal government to respond to the 20-state health reform challenge initially filed in March, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson noted in a Tallahassee, Fla., courtroom last Friday. Among other things, Vinson cited the Obama administration's brief filing for a dismissal of a similar challenge from Virginia just last week as reason not to hold up proceedings any further. 

"Although the Virginia case was brought under a state statute that is not applicable here, the fundamental arguments being raised there in the motion to dismiss would appear to apply here," Vinson wrote. "The fact that the defendants have already researched and prepared a substantial motion addressing the legal issues that are relevant to this case further strengthens the conclusion that they should not need additional time to respond to the plaintiffs' amended complaint." 

The judge also pointed out that because the defendants comprise federal agencies, they have the "very substantial resources of the federal government" to pull from, thus rendering an extension to respond to the reform challenge "unwarranted." 

In related news, a bill that would have allowed residents in Tennessee to opt out of the health reform law was killed in the state's House of Representatives on Wednesday by one vote. Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper believed the bill ultimately would be preempted by the federal law. 

To learn more:
- check out this Legal Newsline article
- here's the judge's response
- read this Associated Press brief in the Tennessean