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HIV protection and cancer screenings could cost more if ‘Obamacare’ loses latest legal battle

FILE - The healthcare.gov website viewed on December 14, 2021 in Fort Washington, Md.  A federal appeals court in New Orleans is preparing to hear arguments on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, whether insurers are required to provide coverage for certain types of preventive care, including HIV prevention and certain types of HIV screening. cancer, under the Health Care Act signed by former President Barack Obama.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Files)
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KEVIN McGILL, Associated Press

34 minutes ago

FILE – The healthcare.gov website viewed on December 14, 2021 in Fort Washington, Md. A federal appeals court in New Orleans is preparing to hear arguments on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, whether insurers are required to provide coverage for certain types of preventive care, including HIV prevention and certain types of HIV screening. cancer, under the Health Care Act signed by former President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Files)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) A judges’ order that would remove requirements that health insurance plans include free HIV-prevention drug coverage, cancer screenings, and various other types of preventive care should stand still while it is being contested, the Biden administration said before an appeals panel Tuesday.

It’s the latest legal skirmish over the mandates of former President Barack Obama’s health care bill, commonly known as Obamacare, which went into effect 13 years ago.


Enforcing the judges’ order could jeopardize preventive care for at least some of the estimated 150 million policyholders, Alisa Klein, pro-administration, told three judges at the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Jonathan Mitchell, who supports challengers to the law, said there was no need to stay the sentence. Insurers and employers who provide health insurance to employees are unlikely to drop preventative coverage before the case is finally resolved because they would risk prosecution if they lose, he said. No rational employer or insurer can take the risk, he said.

This prompted a skeptical response from Judge Leslie Southwick. I’m not sure how that fits into our analysis, said Southwick, who during the hearing asked lawyers to try to reach agreement on how and when the lower court’s ruling should be enforced pending an appeal. You may be right, but it’s really speculation if you want us to apply some of our sense of how insurance companies react.

US District Judge Reed O’Connor’s March ruling impacted coverage requirements guided by recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force. OConnor ruled that because the task force is made up of volunteers, applying its recommendations violates the nomination clause of the Constitution, which governs how government officials can be nominated.

While the appeals continue, the administration is not attempting to block immediate enforcement of O’Connor’s ruling as it applies to the handful of Texas plaintiffs who filed suits. But it shouldn’t apply to the millions affected nationwide, Klein argued.

Southwick questioned that claim. Once the district court decided all of these decisions were outside the authority of the body that made them, I’m not sure what relief would be appropriate, he said.

Not all preventive care is affected by the judges’ ruling. An analysis by the nonprofit foundation KFF found that some screenings, including mammography and cervical cancer screening, would still be covered without out-of-pocket costs because the task force recommended them before the Health Care Act was enacted. in March 2010.

O’Connor, a candidate for former President George W. Bush, is the same judge who ruled more than four years ago that Obama’s entire health care bill was unconstitutional. That ruling was overturned by the US Supreme Court.

Among those suing the federal government in this case are a conservative activist and a Christian dentist who oppose contraceptive coverage and HIV prevention on religious grounds. The appellate judges are Edith Brown Clement and Southwick, also nominated by Bush; and Stephen Higginson, nominated by Obama.

There is no immediate sentence.

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