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Judge tosses healthcare reform challenge

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Mississippi Thursday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the U.S. healthcare reform law enacted in 2010.

Judge Keith Starrett of the U.S. District Court Southern District of Mississippi in Hattiesburg found state Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and others who filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act, did not have standing to file the suit. Starrett, told plaintiffs they could file an amended suit with 30 days, the Hattiesburg American reported.

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In Washington, Republican senators vowed to redouble their efforts to roll back the U.S. healthcare reform law, after a repeal measure failed in a party-line Senate vote Wednesday.

"These are the first steps in a long road that will culminate in 2012," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said after the 51-to-47 defeat of an amendment sponsored by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Republicans needed 60 votes to advance their proposal. Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Mark Warner, D-Va., were not present for Wednesday's vote.

The Republican-majority House voted last month to repeal the law.

Cornyn, who sits on the Senate committees on budget and finance, rejected the suggestion the repeal vote was "a futile act."

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"We will expose the flaws and the weaknesses in this legislation, where the courts will continue to review them ... and we know that path that leads to the judicial branch is going to end up in the United States Supreme Court," he said at a news conference.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced a resolution Wednesday requesting the Supreme Court to review the law quickly, The Washington Post reported.

A federal judge in Florida struck down the healthcare law Monday, saying it was unconstitutional for Congress to enact a law that required Americans to obtain commercial health insurance.

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson said the insurance requirement was so "inextricably bound" to other provisions of the law that the entire law was invalidated. He did not immediately enjoin, or suspend enforcement of the law, pending appeals, which lawyers said could take two years.

Senate lawmakers of both parties joined forces, 81 to 17, Wednesday to repeal a tax provision in the healthcare law that would impose a huge information-reporting requirement on small businesses.

The House has not yet considered that proposal.

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