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Challenges To Health Law Rejected, But Decisions Don't Address Key Point

"In a win for the Obama administration, a federal appeals court in Virginia today tossed out two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the sweeping law overhauling the health care system," our colleague Scott Hensley writes over at the Shots blog.

Scott adds that "a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed cases brought by Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va."

Still, says Scott:

"The judges didn't get down to the nub of the matter: Is the law's requirement that people get health coverage or pay a penalty constitutional? Ultimately, the Supreme Court is going to have sort that out."

The court, according to The Associated Press, "cited technicalities in both decisions and did not rule on the constitutional issues raised by the lawsuits."

The Washington Post says today's decision "leaves the Affordable Care Act with an even scorecard in the courts," because in previous decisions "one appeals court [ruled] in favor of the health-care law's constitutionality and one against it. Both cases have centered on the law's individual mandate, which requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance beginning in 2014. With two conflicting rulings on the issue, it's widely expected that the Supreme Court will take up the case. It will likely issue a decision by next summer."

NPR's Julie Rovner will have more about the decision on today's All Things Considered.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.