A federal judge on Thursday struck down an Obamacare mandate that required most private health insurance plans to cover preventive care such as certain cancer screenings and HIV prevention drugs.
These services included screenings for breast, cervical and lung cancers; tests for sexually transmitted infections; as well as coverage of drugs that prevent HIV infection in high risk populations, called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP.
Judge Reed O’Connor in U.S. Northern District of Texas struck down those coverage requirements and blocked the federal government from enforcing them. The Biden administration is likely to appeal the ruling.
The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
The Affordable Care Act mandated free coverage of health services recommended by an independent panel of experts called the Preventive Services Task Force. O’Connor said that these coverage requirements are unconstitutional because the task force’s members were not nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, according to his opinion.
Two Christian businesses and several individuals sued the federal government in 2020, arguing that the preventive care mandate violates their religious freedom because it includes coverage of PrEP drugs that prevent HIV infection.
They claimed the mandate 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,” according to court documents.
In 2019, 70% of new HIV infections were among men who have sex with men. The community makes up a majority of the people who take PrEP, which
They had also sought to overturn the federal mandate that requires Obamacare compliant plans to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket costs. O’Connor ruled against those claims and kept the contraception mandate in place.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.