“The government cannot show that forcing private insurance companies to provide free PrEP, HPV vaccines, screening and behavioral counseling for STDs and drug use is a policy of such paramount importance that it can trump religious freedom objections.” says in the statement. the lawsuit reads.
The Texans suing the Biden administration also allege that Congress never gave government employees and outside advisers at the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to draw up a list of preventive health services that all insurance plans should cover. They argue that only those appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate should have this power.
The lawyer acting on their behalf is Jonathan Mitchell, author of the six-week Texas abortion ban, which is offering a $10,000 reward to individuals who successfully sue an abortion provider. He is supported by many conservative groups, including a group led by Roger Severino, former head of the HHS Office of Civil Rights.
“It could have a very big impact, apart from specific issues,” Severino said in an interview with POLITICO. “It’s about who decides what the health plan should contain and what you should pay for.”
Analysis published on Monday Urban Institute, a left-wing think tank funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. found that a decision in favor of the Texans could jeopardize the preventive coverage of nearly 168 million people through employer health insurance and Obamacare’s individual market. The study predicts that this, in turn, could undo the health gains made since Obamacare, such as a decline in unwanted pregnancies and an increase in cancer screening rates.
“Removing the requirement that preventive services be free to patients will have negative health and financial implications for millions of people,” warned Katherine Hempstead, senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The Biden administration argues that the case should be dismissed because Texans have no legal capacity because their insurance covering preventive services does not harm them—an argument that has been successful in past defenses of the Affordable Care Act. .
They also argue that the government has a clear interest in preventing the spread of HIV and STDs for the health of the general population, which justifies such a policy.
The suit comes in the background record rates STDs and uneven progress in the fight against HIV. Experts and health advocates say this makes the threat of losing coverage for preventive care especially dangerous — not just for people who get infected, but for everyone whose insurance premiums could rise to cover the cost of their care.
“Even the Trump administration has been actively supporting PrEP as part of the HIV plan,” said Wayne Turner, senior lawyer for the National Health Laws Program. “It’s that we got bipartisan support. This is an attempt to bring the watch back to 1983.”
Judge O’Connor sided with groups challenging Obamacare’s individual mandate, the provisions of the non-discrimination act, its requirement for contraceptive coverage, and insurance provider fees imposed on states by law.
This case, regardless of O’Connor’s decision, is likely to be appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Right of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court, which has upheld the Affordable Care Act on numerous occasions but did not address the issue after Judge Amy Coney Barrett replaced Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, giving the Conservatives another vote in court.