February 7, 2023

“It is impossible for the government to demonstrate that forcing private insurers to provide PrEP drugs, the HPV vaccine, and screening and behavioral counseling for STIs and drug use for free is a policy of such critical importance that it can overcome the concerns of religious freedom. trump,” the government says. lawsuit reads.

The Texans who are suing the Biden administration also allege that Congress never authorized officials and outside advisers to the Department of Health and Human Services to draw up a list of preventive health services that must cover all insurance plans. Only someone nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate should have that authority.

The attorney arguing on their behalf is Jonathan Mitchell, the architect of the six-week Texas abortion ban that offers a $10,000 premium to individuals who successfully sue an abortion provider. He is supported by a range of conservative groups, including one led by Roger Severino, the former head of HHS’s Office for Civil Rights.

“This has the potential to have a very big impact beyond the specific issues at play,” Severino told POLITICO. “It’s about who gets to decide what should be in health insurance and what you should pay for.”

An analysis released Monday by Urban Institute, a left-wing think tank funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that a ruling in favor of Texans could threaten preventive services coverage for nearly 168 million people on employer health insurance and Obamacare’s individual market. The study predicts that this, in turn, could reverse health gains made since Obamacare’s implementation, such as the decrease in unintended pregnancies and the increase in cancer screenings.

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“Ending the requirement that preventive services are free for patients will have negative health and financial consequences for millions,” warned Katherine Hempstead, senior policy advisor at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Biden administration argues that the case should be dismissed because the Texans have no legal standing because they are not harmed by their insurance that covers preventive services — an argument that has been successful in past defenses of the Affordable Care Act.

They also argue that there is a clear government interest in preventing the spread of HIV and STIs for the health of the general population, which justifies the policy.

The suit comes amid record numbers of STDs and uneven progress on HIV. Health experts and advocates say this makes the threat of loss of preventive care coverage particularly damaging — not just for the people who become infected, but for anyone whose premiums could rise to cover the cost of its treatment.

“Even the Trump administration has been a strong supporter of PrEP as part of its plan to end HIV,” said Wayne Turner, senior attorney with the National Health Law Program. “It’s something we’ve had bipartisan support for. This is an attempt to turn the clock back to 1983.”

Judge O’Connor has sided with groups challenging Obamacare’s individual mandate, the law’s non-discrimination provisions, the contraceptive coverage requirement, and insurance company compensation imposed on states by the law.

This case, regardless of O’Connor’s ruling, is likely to be appealed to the right-leaning 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and then to the Supreme Court, which upheld the Affordable Care Act multiple times but failed to resolve the issue. considered since Justice Amy Comey Barrett replaced Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, giving conservatives another voice on the field.

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