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LINK Texas lawsuit aims to gut birth control and HIV medication coverage from health insurance plans - NewsBreak

By Shirin Ali

In Kelley v. Becerra, two Texas plaintiffs argue the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates health insurance providers cover certain preventative care services they do not need and conflict with their religious beliefs — specifically, contraceptive coverage, STD testing and HIV medications.

A Texas lawsuit that hopes to eliminate mandated health insurance coverage of birth control, HIV medication, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing and more has quietly been pushing forward through the court system and could eventually end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the case of Kelley v. Becerra, two plaintiffs from Texas argue that the current structure of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates health insurance providers to cover certain preventative care they argue they do not need and that conflict with their religious beliefs — specifically, contraceptive coverage, STD testing and HIV medications Truvada or PrEP.

One of the lawsuit’s arguments leans on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which states governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without a compelling justification. Plaintiffs argue this right has been violated as both are Christian and unwilling to buy health insurance that subsidizes, “abortifacient contraception or PrEP drugs that encourage homosexual behavior and intravenous drug use.”

The lawsuit also takes issue with how the ACA defines preventative care, a decision-making process that has been assigned to various groups, including the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Preventative Services Task Force and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

These groups have allowed for blood pressure screening, HIV screening, cancer screening, birth control, childhood vaccinations and more to be covered under most health insurance plans with no copays — meaning the services are free for enrolled members.

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Plaintiffs take issue with this approach, arguing these groups have far-reaching powers that unilaterally decide what is defined as preventative care that health insurance plans must cover without any cost-sharing arrangements — such as copays.

Though religious exemptions have been allowed, most health insurance plans include coverage of preventative care like birth control and HIV medicines so the options for plans without those elements are few and far between.

The case reached Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas a few weeks ago in late July — the same judge who issued a ruling declaring the ACA was unconstitutional back in 2018.

O’Connor is expected to rule in favor of the plaintiffs and if that happens, the ACA’s preventative services requirement would become voluntary — meaning health insurers could opt out of offering those services or begin charging for them.

However, there are other outcomes possible, including handing the case over to the Supreme Court.

That could also have grave consequences for the ACA, as the court’s conservative justices ruled on a separate case in 2020 that also centered on the ACA’s preventative care rules, Little Sisters v. Pennsylvania.

In the case, Justice Clarence Thomas specifically addressed one of the groups charged with defining preventative care for the ACA, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), writing it had, “virtually unbridled discretion to decide what counts as preventative care and screenings.”

Health care providers have raised alarm bells over Kelley v. Becerra, like the American Medical Association (AMA), alongside 20 other medical trade groups, which stressed how popular the preventative care measure of the ACA has been — with an estimated 151.6 million people receiving free preventative care in 2020 alone.

An adverse ruling would mean millions of Americans would lose access to “vital preventive health care services, such as screening for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, preeclampsia, and hearing, as well as well child visits and access to immunizations critical to maintaining a healthy population,” wrote the AMA.

A coalition of 20 attorneys general also filed an amicus brief in the Kelley v. Becerra case that defended key provisions of the ACA. It argued that not only have public health outcomes more broadly improved since the ACA’s preventative services provision was implemented, but states have also come to rely on those provisions to build and strengthen their own public health systems.

HippieChick58 9 Aug 11
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13 comments

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1

Here is what they are pushing for...the Christian Nationalists(they have more than climbed down THAT rabbit hole)...want the Feds to either DROP the ACA ... OR ... have a separate ACA plan that is designed by and for Christians...they don't want their Tax dollars to fund anything THEY don't approve. They have been led to believe THEY control the Politicians and THEY control the Courts now. Unfortunately they MAY get what they want with all these Conservative Judges. What they DON'T realize is if they manage to kill the ACA...THEIR insurance premiums are going THROUGH THE ROOF...because as we all know...the Insurance Industry and the Drug Industry...OWN WASHINGTON. MORONS.

4

You can be sure that none of the politicians or the elites will be denied preventative health care coverage that taxpayers will be charged for.

Betty Level 8 Aug 12, 2022
3

There is a reason why Texa$$ is so called.

2

One of the lawsuit’s arguments leans on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which states governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without a compelling justification. Plaintiffs argue this right has been violated as both are Christian and unwilling to buy health insurance that subsidizes, “abortifacient contraception or PrEP drugs that encourage homosexual behavior and intravenous drug use.

Gee, now that I know the Affordable Care Act mandates free PrEP (HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis) drugs, maybe I'll become an intravenous drug user. I'm encouraged! 😉

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Jonathan Mitchell, who is known as a key strategist behind the Texas abortion law passed in 2021 that bans abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy. America First Legal Foundation, launched by former Trump administration official Stephen Miller, is also providing counsel. (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/08/09/1115454627/preventive-care-such-as-birth-control-anti-hiv-medicine-challenged-in-texas-laws)

3

Damn I hate Texas!

4

Nothing that Texas does surprises me anymore.

4

Maybe Texans want to believe that you would have to be gay to get HIV. They don't want gays or any woman who refuses to have babies. This type of ban in healtcare would get rid of both.

Don't say that too lowley

6

It's getting harder and harder to give a rat's a$$ about this nation.

One of my kids is moving to Amsterdam with her husband and kids, and I really get why she's going. It's breaking my heart, but I don't think she's wrong. I'm also learning Dutch and am in the process of renewing my passport.

@HippieChick58 Very smart. I'll be dying here as part of the bloody fray. I've been to Amsterdam and it was a great time.

5

I pretty much thought this would be happening after Roe was taken down. Now these Christian right organizations are emboldened and they are going to shoot for the stars. They want to do away with everything that they believe is against their God, and to hell with what the majority wants. 😡

4

Somebody has got to convince Biden to expand the Supreme Court.

That's probably a terrible idea at this point. Doubt we could even get the votes to change the Senate rules to make it possible. Even if we do, the likelihood he can appoint and comfirm 4 Justices before January is a huge gamble. If the Republicans take the Senate before that's all done, McConnell will hold the rest of the seats open for 2 years and let a Republican fill them. And even if they don't, as soon as the Republicans have a chance, they'll expand the court again and regain the majority.

@ChestRockfield I agree that it's not an answer. Sort of like the call to end the filibuster in that Dems won't stop bringing it up as if it were possible.

@ChestRockfield, @rainmanjr The real solution of course is a return to 2 - or more - functioning political parties. Something we have not had in a long time.

@silverotter11
More is impossible with our system of government. Get that out of your head right now because a belief in the impossible makes people make bad decisions.
Two functional parties is also a huge stretch at this point as well. The party is a reflection of its members, and I don't see them suddenly becoming rational.

6

So another clear intrusion of the church and state. Seems too many are clueless as to the meaning and importance of the first amendment. How about healthcare covering Viagra? More proof positive these rules are aimed at women.

Omg! Yes yes yes yes yes

They know very well what the 1st Amendment says vis-a-vis church and state separation, and they say to Hell with that. They want a Christian theocracy, period.

6

Why can't evangelicals just leave normal people alone ? sick folks

Leetx Level 7 Aug 11, 2022

Reminds me of Rodney King: "Why can't we all just get along?" Look how that worked out.

9

There goes ACA...I fucking truly loathe White Kkkristian Nationalist..

Those people are so emboldened by the repeal of Roe the sky doesn't feel like a limit. Welcome to the land of Kkkaria Law.

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