It’s another year, so that means another legal challenge to Obamacare. A group of Texans has come together to challenge the law’s requirement that health insurers provide free coverage of preventive medical care measures, including contraceptives and drugs to prevent HIV, Politico reports. This comes as the debate heats up around the Supreme Court and Congress’s actions concerning reproductive rights.
Judge Reed O’Connor declared the entire law unconstitutional in 2018, but the Supreme Court upheld it in 2021. O’Connor will hear arguments in Fort Worth, Texas, from a line of conservative businesses and individuals saying the Affordable Care Act requirement is unlawful. Specifically, most health insurance plans are required to provide certain preventive services like cancer screenings and vaccinations free of charge without co-pays or deductibles.
Urban Institute explained that if this challenge is successful, “168 million people on employer health insurance and Obamacare’s individual market could be impacted.”
“Ending the requirement that preventive services be free to patients will have negative health and financial consequences for millions,” warned Katherine Hempstead, senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In a separate claim, the plaintiffs claim preventative coverage “forces self-insured religious employers to provide coverage against their beliefs in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
“The government cannot possibly show that forcing private insurers to provide PrEP drugs, the HPV vaccine, and screenings and behavioral counseling for STDs and drug use free of charge is a policy of such overriding importance that it can trump religious-freedom objections,” the lawsuit reads.
The Biden administration is arguing that the lawsuit has no legal standing because the policy is not harming states from a financial perspective. Also, the White House’s interest in keeping the spread of HIV and STDs down should grant them the ability to make these services widely available. Like many of these cases, this challenge will likely head up the chain to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts and fellow conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined with the liberal judges to push back an Obamacare repeal in 2021. However, it’s unlikely that will happen again.