A federal judge in Texas caused concern among millions of Americans last week when he ruled that certain preventive health coverage requirements are unconstitutional under the Affordable Care Act.
But the ruling by Federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, which is being challenged by the Biden administration, won’t have as big an impact in Connecticut. That’s because Connecticut is one of 15 states that has written into state law the same coverage requirements that are part of the ACA.
Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais said that the “Judge’s order specifically targeted the mandate for preventive care, such as drugs prescribed for Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) to prevent getting HIV. The judge deemed this a violation of the religious rights of employers. However, this ruling will not impact Connecticut’s existing laws, which provide the same protections as those outlined in the ACA. Your rights in Connecticut will continue to be upheld.”
Two business owners and several individuals sued the U.S. government in March 2020 over the preventive health services mandate, arguing that buying insurance that covers drugs that prevent HIV infection violates their Christian religious beliefs.
The ruling by the judge, who in 2018 tried to strike down the entirety of the law but was overruled by the Supreme Court, was highly technical in nature. The ACA, also known as Obamacare, requires health insurers to cover preventive services at no additional cost to patients. However, even after the ruling certain preventive services would still be covered.
O’Connor’s ruling says that services deemed preventive by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force made after 2010 would not be allowed. That includes three new types of screenings: one for anxiety in children, another for unhealthy drug use, and a third for weight gain in pregnant women. It also includes a recommendation for PrEP, a daily pill that is highly effective at preventing the transmission of HIV.
O’Connor ruled that it is still constitutional to rely on the decisions made by other groups — including the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which makes recommendations about vaccines, and women and children’s health.
“The Connecticut Insurance Department remains committed to ensuring that all Connecticut residents have access to appropriate healthcare,” Mais said. “Your insurance coverage in Connecticut will not be affected by a Texas federal judge’s recent ruling that certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) are unlawful.”
Coverage of certain preventive services has been a popular provision of the controversial law. A recent poll found 62% of respondents say it’s very important that coverage of preventive services stays in place.