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Possible outcomes in pending health care law case

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A: The wild card, and least conclusive outcome in the case, probably also is the most unlikely, based on what justices said during the arguments.

No justice seemed inclined to take this path, which involves the court’s consideration of a technical issue.

The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., held that the challenge to the insurance requirement has to wait until people start paying the penalty for not purchasing insurance. The appeals court said it was bound by the federal Anti-Injunction Act, which says that federal courts may not hear challenges to taxes, or anything that looks like a tax, until after the taxes are paid.

So if the justices have trouble coming together on any of the other options they could simply punt.

The administration says it doesn’t want this result. Yet such a decision would allow it to continue putting the law in place, postponing any challenge until more of the benefits are being received. On the other hand, it might give Republicans more ammunition to press for repeal in the meantime.

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