If you don’t like the federal health care program signed into law by President Obama last March – and count us among those who don’t – Monday’s decision by a federal judge in Florida was good news.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson declared the entire law unconstitutional – not just the part of the law that requires all Americans to buy health insurance. The purchase mandate was the key provision in Vinson’s decision, but the judge said, in effect, that if that part of the law was bad, the whole thing was bad.

He had a point; when Congress was debating health care reform, many of its supporters argued that the law couldn’t work unless everyone was required to participate.

Ruling in a case brought by 26 states, including Maine, Judge Vinson compared the law to a “finely crafted watch” and said removing one defective piece would make the watch inoperative.

For our part, we’d run through a thesaurus or two hunting for adjectives before we’d choose the phrase “finely crafted” to describe the monstrosity known as the Affordable Care Act.

The law is a maddening mishmash of mandates, taxes, bureaucratic excesses and fiscal mirror tricks slapped together in a frenzy of congressional wheeling and dealing that made a mockery of the legislative process and besmirched the reputations of the so-called leaders who concocted it.

Vinson was trying to write a snazzy judicial opinion, of course, so we’ll give him “finely crafted.” And we’ll take his ruling that the health care law is a wobbly house of cards built upon an unconstitutional foundation of mandatory insurance for all Americans.

Many opponents of the law, notably congressional Republicans pushing to repeal it, are trumpeting the Florida decision as a shot in the arm for their repeal bill.

To be sure, the decision moves the issue one rung higher on the ladder to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has the power to overturn all or part of the law on constitutional grounds.

But the repeal effort in Congress continues to be a distraction; even if the bill passed by the House should miraculously pass the Senate, it will be vetoed by the president, and opponents lack the votes to overturn a veto.

The public interest would be far better served if Republicans would let the states’ lawsuit wend its way through the court system and focus instead on working with Democrats to rework or eliminate some of the law’s more heinous provisions, such as the costly and time-consuming paperwork burdens it imposes on small businesses.

And while officials such as Maine Gov. Paul LePage certainly can find cause for encouragement in Judge Vinson’s ruling, the states challenging the law still need to prepare for the possibility that it will survive both the congressional repeal effort and the lawsuit.

If the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, states will have to be ready to implement its provisions. Simply hoping for repeal, or for a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court, will not make the law go away.

The desire and, yes, the need, for health care reform in this country never should have come to this. President Obama shouldn’t have demanded that his Democratic allies in Congress deliver a health care bill under the pressure of time; congressional Democrats shouldn’t have complied with his demand.

But the law was passed, without sufficient debate and public input, and the president signed it, without concern for the political and legal consequences.

All we can do, for the moment, at least, is live with the results.