UNITED STATES NEWS

Judge’s ruling undercuts US health law’s preventive care

Mar 30, 2023, 8:47 AM | Updated: 11:52 am

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge in Texas who previously ruled to dismantle the Affordable Care Act struck down a narrower but key part of the nation’s health law Thursday that requires most insurers to cover preventive services that include screenings for cancer, diabetes and mental health.

Other no-cost services, including HIV screenings, are also impacted under the ruling by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor that opponents say will jeopardize preventive care for millions of Americans.

Experts cautioned that insurers are unlikely to stop any coverage immediately. The Biden administration was also expected to appeal and seek a stay of the ruling.

“This is not the potential fatal blow to the ACA like previous court cases, but it would limit a very popular benefit that tens of millions of people use,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The decision comes more than four years after O’Connor, a nominee of former President George W. Bush, ruled that the entire health care law also known as “Obamacare” was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

This time O’Conner blocked only the requirement that most insurers cover a range of preventive care — including screenings for multiple types of cancer — siding with plaintiffs who include a conservative activist in Texas and a Christian dentist who opposed mandatory coverage for contraception and an HIV prevention treatment on religious grounds.

The requirements for coverage are driven by recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is made up of volunteers. O’Connor ruled that enforcing the recommendations was “unlawful” and a violation of the Constitution’s Appointment Clause, which lays out how government officials can be appointed.

Dr. Michael Barry, chairman of the federal task force, said in a statement following the ruling that people with low incomes have been able to get services they need as care has expanded over the past decade because of the law.

“Fundamentally, people across the country deserve the opportunity to receive these important preventive services that have been proven to help them live longer and healthier lives,” Barry said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the ruling.

The Biden administration had told the court that the outcome of the case “could create extraordinary upheaval in the United States’ public health system.” More than 20 states, mostly controlled by Democrats, had urged O’Connor against a sweeping ruling that would do away with the preventive care coverage requirement entirely.

The ruling applies to recommendations made by the task force after March 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was enacted. Some of the nation’s largest medical groups came out against the lawsuit, warning that insurers in the future could impose cost-sharing on patients for screenings that are now fully covered.

Levitt said if O’Connor’s ruling is allowed to stand, insurers are likely to look at changes in coverage beginning in the next calendar year since existing contracts are already in effect.

In September, O’Connor ruled that required coverage of the HIV prevention treatment known as PrEP, which is a pill taken daily to prevent infection, violated the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs. That decision also undercut the broader system that determines which preventive drugs are covered in the U.S., ruling that a federal task force that recommends coverage of preventive treatments is unconstitutional.

Employers’ religious objections have been a sticking point in past challenges to former President Barack Obama’s health care law, including over contraception.

The lawsuit is among the attempts by conservatives to chip away at the Affordable Care Act — or wipe it out entirely — since it was signed into law in 2010. The attorney who filed the suit was an architect before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June and allowed states to ban the procedure.

___

Associated Press reporter Amanda Seitz in Washington contributed to this report.

United States News

Associated Press

Text of the policy statement the Federal Reserve released Wednesday

WASHINGTON (AP) — Below is the statement the Federal Reserve released Wednesday after its latest policy meeting ended: Recent indicators suggest that economic activity has continued to expand at a solid pace. Job gains have remained strong, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Inflation has eased over the past year but remains elevated. In […]

9 minutes ago

Hilton Crawford's Campaign Poster when he ran for Sheriff of Jefferson County in the 1976 Democrati...

Ben Kuebrich, KSL Podcasts

Former officer who kidnapped 12-year-old after tricking parents had red flags in police record

Episode six of Ransom: Position of Trust, dives into Hilton Crawford's past to see who he was and what led him to kidnap Mckay Everett.

44 minutes ago

Associated Press

Oklahoma Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit of last Tulsa Race Massacre survivors seeking reparations

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit of the last two survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, dampening the hope of advocates for racial justice that the government would make amends for one of the worst single acts of violence against Black people in U.S. history. The nine-member […]

56 minutes ago

Associated Press

High school president writes notes thanking fellow seniors — 180 of them

Emily Post would be proud. A high school class president in Massachusetts who gave a commencement speech wanted to recognize all of his fellow graduates. So he wrote them personal thank-you notes presented at the ceremony — 180 to be exact. “I wish I could’ve acknowledged you all, but there was simply not enough time,” […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

AP-NORC poll: About half of US adults approve of Trump’s conviction, but views of him remain stable

NEW YORK (AP) — About half of U.S. adults approve of Donald Trump’s recent felony conviction, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey shows some potential vulnerabilities, along with some signs of resilience in his support, as Trump tries to become the first American with a felony […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge faces inquiry after Illinois attorney was kicked out of court and handcuffed to chair

CHICAGO (AP) — Cook County’s top judge has asked state regulators to review allegations that an attorney was handcuffed to a chair after a judge kicked him out of her courtroom. Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans referred misconduct allegations against Judge Kathy Flanagan to the state Judicial Inquiry Board on Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Judge’s ruling undercuts US health law’s preventive care