Thursday, March 30, 2023

Brief Blog: Judge Strikes Down ACA Preventive Care Mandates; Likely to be Stayed

 In a case that was running through 2022, a Texas judge has "nationally struck down" the preventive care mandates inside the Affordable Care Act of 2010.   The Act required that private insurers cover services endorsed by the US Preventive Services Task Force.   

In general, this case (Braidwood v HHS/Becerra) has involved arguments as to whether the ACA law could point outwards to the USPSTF decisions and give them, in effect, the force of law.   One workaround could be to have the individual decisions of the USPSTF panelists certified and restated by HHS to achieve statutory compliance in a legalistic way. (This judge believes that would fail; p 26).

I am not an attorney but I would be "very unsurprised" if the national scope of the ruling is not "stayed" or postponed by a further court action soon.  (FN1) In this case, the plaintiffs were concerned about contraceptive benefits and HIV prevention benefits, but the legal arguments about the ACA were general and not specific to those particular situations.

See an open access article at Politico here:

See a PDF of the judge's 28-page decision here:

The wide spectrum of argumentation includes the USPSTF legality argument, the religous freedom arguments (which are specific to contraception and PREP), and whether a remedy should be universal or narrowly tailored (striking down the ACA at one extreme, and providing relief only to the present litigants for PREP at the other extreme).

Also at Fierce Healthcare here.  The judge refers to the USPSTF as "the preventive service's task force's constituionally infirm preventive care mandates." (p 20).  The USPSTF became illegal to the extent that the ACA gave it "significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States" (p. 23).  


Supporting my guess that this will get postponed, Exact Sciences stock moved only half a percent today.


In other legal news today, a shareholder suite against Biogen, alleging it hyped prospects for Aduhelm, was thrown out.   Judge.   Suit.