Texas Federal Judge Reed O’Conner ruled against the vital provision of the Affordable Care Act that required insurers and employers to cover HIV prevention drugs. O’Conner ruled that it violates the religious freedom of a Christian-owned company. He struck down the Obamacare law before the Supreme Court upheld it.
As of now, there is no clear indication of what impacted the ruling. However, it could determine whether the rest of the law’s preventive care coverage requirements will remain. The Texas employers who challenged the provision argued it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It forced people to pay for coverage that conflicts with their faith and personal values.
They specifically stated that paying for health plans that cover PrEP makes them “complicit in facilitating homosexual behavior, drug use, and sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman.” PrEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV by 99% when taken as recommended. There are two pills approved for use as PrEP: Truvada and Descovy.
Furthermore, O’Connor ruled against the broader preventive services covered under the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. These preventive services included colorectal and other cancer screenings, depression screenings, and hypertension screenings, among many others. He said the task force’s system for deciding which services should be fully covered was “unconstitutional.” Shockingly, O’Connor did uphold some requirements for immunizations and specific services for women and children. Many worries that stopping such preventive measures could threaten access to life-saving care for nearly 168 million Americans covered under private employer health plans and the ACA’s market plans.