HomePoliticsObamacare Goes Back to Court as Texans Question STD Coverage and HIV...

Obamacare Goes Back to Court as Texans Question STD Coverage and HIV Care

“The government cannot demonstrate that forcing private insurers to provide PrEP medications, the HPV vaccine, and screening and behavioral counseling for STDs and drug use for free is such an important policy that it may outweigh the objections to religious liberty,” the lawsuit says.

Texans who sued the Biden administration also argue that Congress never gave public officials and outside advisers to the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to draw up the list of preventive health services that must be covered by all insurance plans. Only someone nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, they argue, should have that power.

The attorney arguing on his behalf is Jonathan Mitchell, the architect of Texas’ six-week abortion ban that offers a $10,000 reward to private citizens who successfully sue an abortion provider. He has the support of a variety of conservative groups, including one led by Roger Severino, the former head of the HHS Office of Civil Rights.

“This has the potential to have a very big impact beyond the particular issues at stake,” Severino told POLITICO. “This is about who decides what should be in a health care plan and what should be paid for.”

An analysis published on Monday by the Urban Institute, a left-leaning 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 in the employer health insurance and Obamacare individual market. The study predicts that this could, in turn, reverse health gains made since Obamacare was enacted, such as fewer unintended pregnancies and higher cancer detection rates.

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

The Biden administration argues that the case should be thrown out because Texans lack legal capacity because their insurance covering preventive services does not harm them, a line of argument that has been successful in previous defenses of the Affordable Care Act. Price. .

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

The lawsuit comes amid record STD rates and uneven progress on HIV. Health experts and advocates say that makes the threat of loss of coverage for preventive care particularly damaging, not just for the people who become infected, but also for everyone whose premiums might rise to cover the cost of treatment.

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

Justice O’Connor has sided with groups challenging Obamacare’s individual mandate, the law’s nondiscrimination provisions, its contraceptive coverage requirement, and insurance provider fees imposed on states through of the law.

This case, regardless of O’Connor’s ruling, will likely be appealed to the right-leaning Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court, which has upheld the Affordable Care Act multiple times, but has not considered the issue since Judge Amy Coney Barrett replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, giving conservatives another voice on the court.

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