The government cannot require individuals to carry health insurance, ruled a federal court on Friday, striking down an important part of the new health care reform law.
The divided three-judge panel sided with 26 states that had sued to block the law.
Local Republican Congress members lauded the decision made by Circuit Court of Appeals. They expect that the fate of the overall health care law will be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The panel, however, didn't go as far as a lower court that had invalidated the entire overhaul as unconstitutional.
Government attorneys can - and most likely will - ask the full 11th Circuit to review the panel's ruling. They also can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which many legal observers expect to have the final say on the issue.
White House adviser Stephanie Cutter said the administration strongly disagreed with the ruling and was confident it would not stand.
She explained that individuals who choose to go without health insurance are making an economic decision that affects all Americans. When people without insurance obtain health care they cannot pay for, those with insurance and taxpayers are often left to pay for them, she said.