Texas lawsuit targets preventive care coverage for birth control, STD testing

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A Texas court is challenging certain preventive care requirements in the Affordable Care Act.  Photo: fernandozhiminaicela/Pixabay

A Texas court is challenging certain preventive care requirements in the Affordable Care Act. Photo: fernandozhiminaicela/Pixabay

Aug. 9 (UPI) — A Texas lawsuit focused on specific preventive care requirements in Affordable care for the act including contraception, HIV drugs and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, could end up in supreme court.

Case Kelley vs. Becerranow before a federal judge, is challenging one of the law’s provisions requiring health plans to pay for certain preventive care at no cost to consumers, which the two plaintiffs say are unnecessary and conflict with their religious beliefs.

The plaintiffs argue that some of the ACA’s preventive care coverage rules violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which states that governments should not place substantial burdens on religious exercise without a compelling justification.

They also argue that the mandate to cover certain preventive services, such as birth control and STD testing, increases the cost of insurance coverage.

Plaintiff John Kelley claims in the complaint that he “has no desire to purchase health insurance that would include birth control coverage because his wife is no longer of childbearing age.”

The complaint also states that Kelley is a Christian and does not want to buy health insurance that subsidizes birth control or PrEP drugs “that promote homosexual behavior and intravenous drug use.”

Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas heard the case last month and is expected to rule in the coming weeks. O’Connor is the same judge who ruled in 2018 that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional.

If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiffs, preventive services including cancer screenings, vaccines and alcohol abuse counseling may be at riskaccording to leading medical organizations.

“If ruled against, patients would lose access to vital preventive health care services such as screening for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, heart disease, diabetes, pre-eclampsia and hearing, as well as access to vaccinations that are important for maintaining health . population,” the American Medical Association said in a statement.

But some lawyers warn that the way the ACA was written leaves the term “preventive care” open to interpretation and could allow a lawsuit to hold up in court.

“I have claimed this phrase for years preventive care is very open,” said Josh Blackman, a professor of constitutional law at South Texas College. “Courts can respond to that position by saying, ‘Congress: If you want something like contraception, you have to be more specific,'” Blackman said.

While the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act in previous cases such as Little Sisters v. Judge Clarence Thomas disagreed with one of the groups charged with defining preventive care for the ACA, writing that “almost limitless discretion to decide what is considered preventive care and checkups,” he said.

As current justices sit on the Supreme Court, Kelley v. Becerra is forcing doctors and medical groups to “sound the alarm.”

“Our patients cannot afford to lose this critical access to preventive health care services,” the AMA said. “Reversing this approach would reverse important progress and make it more difficult for doctors to diagnose and treat diseases and conditions that, if caught early, are significantly more manageable.”

As seen on https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2022/08/09/texas-lawsuit-challenges-affordable-care-act-preventative-care-birth-control-std-testing-hiv-medication/9791660082810/

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