Health Care Lawsuit in Appeals Court

The battle over the fate of health care reform has now moved to Atlanta, where Wednesday, inside this courthouse, the government's top attorney fought back against a legal challenge brought by 26 states, including Florida.

Only four months ago, the states won a key victory, with a federal judge in Pensacola striking down the core of the health care law - the individual mandate.

"Our point is that people are seeking this good already in untold numbers, the good of health care, that it is almost a universal feature of our existence, and that the failure to pay for that good when they seek it is what causes the cost shifting," said acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal.

The states complain the law violates the constitution.

It requires states to spend more money on Medicaid, and Bill Herrle with the National Federation of Independent Businesses here in Florida says it also penalizes companies that can't afford to offer insurance.

"The individual mandate is the Achilles' heel of the health care plan," Herrle said. "We feel it gives us our best constitutional grip, under the argument that you simply can't regulate non-activity."

Far from plunging Main Street into critical condition, the government argues health care reform is a critical shot in the arm, and it's that economic current running beneath the constitutional issues that's bound to play a role in how the court ultimately rules.

Democratic state representative Alan Williams is hoping the court will see the law as leading to more people being insured, driving down the cost of coverage.

"I've talked with a number of small businesses who actually will benefit from this, because now they have a way to offer health care to their employees at a much lower cost," Rep. Williams said.

No matter the ruling on Wednesday's arguments, almost everyone expects the case to head to the Supreme Court where health care reform will live or die at the hands of doctors of law.

The multi-state lawsuit was originally filed by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. His successor, Pam Bondi, is spear-heading the effort now and was on-hand for Wednesday's arguments.


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