Mar 31, 2023 - Health

DOJ appeals decision to strike down free preventive health services under Obamacare

Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Friday appealed a federal judge's decision to invalidate the Affordable Care Act requirement for free coverage of specified preventive health services.

Why it matters: The move kicks off a legal process that could wind up at the Supreme Court and has financial implications for some 150 million Americans on employer-sponsored health plans.

Driving the news: The appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was widely expected and comes after Texas-based U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor on Thursday struck down the preventive services requirement.

  • "For over a decade, the Affordable Care Act has ensured that millions of Americans have access to critical preventative health care. The Department of Justice has filed a notice of appeal in this case,” said a DOJ spokesperson.
  • The 5th Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, is considered among the most conservative appeals courts in the country.

Background: O'Connor's ruling covered some services the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force most highly recommends for preventive care, including certain cancer screenings, statins for heart disease and medications that prevent HIV.

  • Experts believe the ruling, if upheld, could gradually shift costs to privately insured people who use such services.
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