The Affordable Care Act’s process for determining what kinds of preventive care insurers should cover has been found unconstitutional by a federal judge in Texas. The decision means insurance policies no longer must cover pre-exposure prophylaxis also known as PrEP, a drug that has been proven to prevent the transmission of the HIV virus.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas’ ruling puts other preventive care services such as cancer screenings and alcohol abuse counseling in jeopardy as well.
The ruling says that the Preventive Services Task Force, a group of volunteer experts that recommends which preventive care services should be covered by law, is unconstitutional. This because the group of experts isn’t appointed by the president and approved by the senate yet their recommendations are binding.
Judge O’Conner ruled that requiring companies to cover PrEP violates their religious freedom. “The PrEP mandate substantially burdens the religious exercise of Braidwood’s owners,” he said, arguing that religious company owners believe that covering PrEP drugs “facilitates and encourages homosexual behavior, intravenous drug use and sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman.”
The Biden administration is expected to try to appeal the ruling in the coming days.