On March 30, Judge Reed O'Connor of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas struck down a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) that requires insurers and employers to cover preventive services for free, including cancer screenings and HIV drugs, The Hill reported.
O'Connor previously struck down the entire Obamacare law before the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it.
The decision affects access to treatment for the approximately 100 million Americans who use free preventive services annually, and insurers may impose deductibles and copays for potentially life-saving screening tests.
In a statement sent to Windy City Times, American Medical Association (AMA) President Dr. Jack Resneck Jr. said, "The AMA is alarmed by today's deeply flawed court ruling in Texas that jeopardizes access to preventive health services guaranteed under federal health reform, including drugs preventing HIV transmission.
"A critical section of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required insurers and health plans to cover dozens of preventive health services with no cost to patientseliminating copays and deductibles for the early detection of potentially fatal medical conditions, including cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and sexually-transmitted infections. Millions of patients could lose first-dollar coverage for cholesterol treatment, tobacco and alcohol cessation, immunizations, and childhood screenings for lead poisoning, hearing loss, and autism. Care that is critical to reducing maternal mortality would also be jeopardized. These preventive-care requirements that for ten years have enabled millions of Americans to improve their health could just go away as a result of this flawed ruling.
"Denying access to proven preventive care flies in the face of good policy, and the societal costs of establishing barriers to preventive services are immeasurable. Physicians know the inevitable result when courts interfere with insurance coverage of effective, proven interventions. Patients will be subjected to needless illness and preventable deaths. We strongly urge employers and insurers to maintain this first dollar coverage while legislative and judicial next steps are considered."
The AMA and other leading medical organizations discussed the consequences of this potential ruling in a statement published in July 2022. See www.ama-assn.org/press-center/press-releases/physicians-sound-alarm-lawsuit-threatening-preventive-care .