Long-shot legal challenges to health care law abound

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from USA Today,

President Obama’s law faces hurdles beyond the Supreme Court case on the birth control mandate.

n courtrooms across the country, Republican state attorneys general and conservative groups are challenging the way the law was passed, the way it was worded and the bureaucracy it created.

For Obama and the millions of Americans who stand to benefit from the law’s insurance expansion, the good news is that the lawsuits are long shots. Most are pending at federal district courts, which gives the government more time to implement the law and could make judges less likely to rule against it.

Still, a favorable appeals court ruling in any of the cases might lead to another Supreme Court showdown like the one expected in March or April, when the justices will consider business owners’ religious objections to providing certain types of birth control coverage.

Perhaps the most closely watched lawsuits are those in the District of Columbia, Virginia, Oklahoma and Indiana that, ironically, accept the law’s wording at face value.

The lawsuits challenge an Internal Revenue Service rule that applies the hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies to all states and subjects employers and taxpayers nationwide to penalties. A victory could threaten the subsidies, making health coverage unaffordable for millions and the health care marketplace unworkable.

One of the cases, Halbig v. Sebelius, will be back in federal district court in the District of Columbia on Tuesday. Judge Paul Friedman has said he will rule by mid-February. Another case in Virginia could be decided before the end of the year.

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