The government can continue to enforce “Obamacare” requirements that health insurance plans cover preventive care — such as HIV prevention, certain types of cancer screening and other diseases — while the legal battle over the mandate ends with a court settlement approved Tuesday. runs under
The settlement approved by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals — at least for now — preserves cost-free preventive care coverage for millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act.
That coverage was thrown into question by a March ruling from a federal judge in Texas, who said some of the preventive care requirements under former President Barack Obama’s 13-year-old health care law are unconstitutional.
The decision by US District Judge Reed O’Connor had nationwide ramifications. The Biden administration argued in an appeals court last week that the decision should be stayed while it pursues appeals.
A memorandum of understanding was filed in the court on Monday. In it, plaintiffs in the case, including a Christian dentist who opposes coverage for contraception and HIV prevention on religious grounds, agreed to widespread migration across the country. In exchange, during the appeals process, a handful of plaintiffs will be allowed to provide insurance plans that do not cover preventive care. If O’Connor’s decision was overturned, he would have to provide coverage, but he would not be penalized for dumping coverage during the appeal.
O’Connor’s March decision relates to requirements for coverage based on recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force. The judge ruled that because the task force is made up of volunteers, implementing its recommendations violates the Constitution’s Appointments Clause, which governs how government officials can be appointed.
Not all preventive care was threatened by O’Connor’s decision. An analysis by the nonprofit KFF Foundation found that some screenings, including mammography and cervical cancer screening, would still be covered without out-of-pocket costs as the task force recommended them before the health care law went into effect in March 2010.
Kevin McGill, The Associated Press