In the latest attempt to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a federal judge in Texas issued a decision in March targeting the law’s popular no-cost preventive services provisions. For thirteen years, the ACA has required most private health insurance plans to cover, at no-cost, a range of preventive health care services recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. However, this latest ruling eliminates that protection by allowing insurers to charge co-pays and deductibles for several types of preventive care. While this ruling jeopardizes access to preventive care for over 150 million people across the country; advocates can step up to protect community members.
What happened in Braidwood v Becerra?
Plaintiffs in this case challenged the provision in the ACA requiring individual, small-group, large-group, and self-funded health insurance plans to cover, at no-cost, preventive services recommended by three advisory groups.
Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication proven to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, was the preventive service initially at issue in this case. Plaintiffs in this case made the discriminatory claim that covering PrEP and its related medical services, at no-cost, violated “their religious beliefs by making them complicit in facilitating homosexual behavior, drug use, and sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman.” Judge O’Connor ruled in favor of these plaintiffs, meaning health insurance plans now have the option to drop coverage for PrEP entirely or impose cost sharing if they claim a religious objection.