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Texas Judge’s Bold Move: Overturning ObamaCare’s Free Preventive Services Mandate

Texas Judge's Bold Move: Overturning ObamaCare's Free Preventive Services Mandate
O'Connor also struck down ObamaCare's HIV treatment mandate, ruling that it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing the plaintiff, a Christian business and prominent GOP supporter, to pay for HIV preventative prescription insurance. (Photo: Getty Images)

A federal judge in Texas threw out a key provision of the ACA (Affordable Care Act). This part says that insurers and employers don’t have to pay for free preventive services such as cancer screenings and HIV drugs, etc.

Texas Judge's Bold Move: Overturning ObamaCare's Free Preventive Services Mandate

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s health policy vice president, Larry Levitt, said the verdict harms a popular aspect of the ACA but doesn’t kill it. (Photo: stock.adobe.com)

Striking Down Free Preventive Services Requirement

Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas made the decision which applies everywhere and goes into effect right away. The decision makes it harder for the roughly 100M Americans who use free preventive services every year to get treatment, and it opens the door for insurance companies to charge deductibles and copays for screening tests that could save lives.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires to cover all of the costs of more than 100 free preventive services that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says everyone should get. Cost sharing is likely to keep people from getting these procedures done, especially if they don’t have much money.

O’Connor also threw out ObamaCare’s free preventive services for HIV treatment mandate, saying that it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing the plaintiff, a Christian employer and well-known GOP donor, to pay for insurance that covers HIV prevention drugs.

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‘The Ruling Hurts the Affordable Care Act (ACA), But it Doesn’t Kill the Law’

Larry Levitt, the health policy vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said that the ruling hurts a very popular part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but it doesn’t kill the law. “Previous cases against the ACA put the law and its basic protections and coverage at risk. “That’s not what this case does,” Levitt said. “Part of the law would be thrown out. Now, even though it’s a very popular one that a lot of people use.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said that the Justice Department and the Health and Human Services Department were looking over the decision.  Some screening recommendations were made before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so the ruling won’t change them all. So screenings for breast cancer and colon cancer won’t change, but newer guidelines for skin cancer and lung cancer would.

Levitt said that the problem could be fixed easily by Congress with a simple one-line bill. But the politics of the ACA make it unlikely that anything would pass, even 13 years after it was passed. “It wouldn’t take many words to fix this in the law, but it could be very hard to do so politically,” Levitt said.

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