Appeals court hears challenge to health care law

By the Associated Press | September 23, 2011 | 11:40 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A conservative-leaning panel of federal appellate judges has raised concerns about the health care overhaul, but suggested the challenge to it may be premature.

The hearing Friday in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama's signature domestic legislative achievement focused on whether Congress overstepped its authority in requiring people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty on their taxes, beginning in 2014.

But Judge Brett Kavanagh, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said that he has a "major concern" that courts might not be able to rule on the law's constitutionality until 2015. That's because a federal law bars most challenges to tax-related legislation before the tax or penalty is paid.

A federal appeals court in Richmond cited that law in throwing out another challenge to the overhaul.