Federal Appeals Court Puts a Temporary Hold on Ruling Against ACA’s Preventive Health Care Mandate
On Monday, a U.S. federal appeals court temporarily halted a previous court decision that eliminated the obligation for employers to fully finance certain preventive healthcare services, as outlined by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Broader Context
The ACA mandate being scrutinized requires coverage for specific healthcare services, such as cancer screenings, behavioral counseling, and HIV prevention, among others. These are services endorsed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The case is now under review by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans. This court’s action has temporarily paused a lower court’s ruling that threatened this aspect of the ACA.
Why It Matters
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 60% of individuals with private health insurance, or roughly 100 million people, utilize these ACA-covered preventive health services every year.
The situation is as follows: The 5th Circuit, known for its conservative leanings, issued an order to temporarily stay the lower court’s decision while they examine the case further. This action followed an appeal by the Justice Department against the March ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor.
What Does It Mean For You?
The ACA still requires that preventive services be provided at no cost to the insured.
Judge O’Connor ruled in September that the ACA’s mandate requiring employers to cover HIV preventive treatments infringed upon the religious rights of a Christian-owned company. This led the plaintiffs in the case to encourage O’Connor, who had declared the ACA unconstitutional in 2018, to abolish the ACA’s preventive services mandate altogether. In response, O’Connor struck down the requirement in March, stating that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force needs more authority to dictate which services insurers must cover since Congress does not appoint it.