A federal appeals court on Monday temporarily blocked a lower court’s decision that struck down the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all health plans fully cover certain preventive health services.
The move by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans will suspend A resolution As of a March that threatened insurance coverage for recommended services such as teen depression screenings and drugs that prevent HIV transmission, the Justice Department appealed the decision, and the appeals court’s suspension will remain in effect while the appeals process begins.
Why it matters: Preventive health services are popular.
A ruling earlier this spring eliminated one of the most popular requirements of the Affordable Care Act by removing financial barriers to a range of preventive services. It took effect immediately across the country and was likely to affect the nearly 150 million Americans who are enrolled in private health insurance, either through employer-sponsored plans or through the Obamacare markets.
During a case review, full coverage of preventive services will be legally required.
Background: The Affordable Care Act is under fire — again.
Earlier this year, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that insurance companies haven’t had to cover any of the services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force since 2010. His conclusion: The task force is not set by Congress and therefore did not have the constitutional power to decide which services should be covered by the health insurance company.
This ruling built on previous decisions: in 2018, Justice O’Connor ruled the ACA unconstitutional (although the Supreme Court later overturned this decision). last Septemberdetermined that the ACA’s mandate that employers cover a daily HIV prevention pill called PrEP violated the company’s religious liberties.
What’s next: March to the Supreme Court.
For now, employers will still be required to provide free coverage for preventative services. But the Fifth Circuit is conservative-leaning, and the case could end up in the Supreme Court as another challenge to the Obamacare health law.