Foes of President Barack Obama's healthcare law lost a bid on Tuesday to put an immediate stop to a key part of the law - the insurance subsidies in the 34 U.S. states that declined to establish their own online marketplaces.
At a court hearing, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman in Washington, D.C., declined to grant a preliminary injunction sought by a group of individuals and small businesses that in a lawsuit call the subsidies unlawful.
Friedman ruled their lawsuit could move forward and said he would rule on its overall merits by mid-February, rejecting an argument from the Obama administration that the suit was too speculative to be considered.
The latest round of legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," focuses on whether the 2010 law allows for subsidies in all states or only in states that have set up exchanges.
(Read more: States reveal Obamacare data)