"Outrageous:" Lambda Legal Condemns Ruling Striking Down Insurance Coverage of Preventative Services such as PrEP

"This is a blow to our national healthcare system writ large and will inevitably lead to an unhealthier public and puts lives at risk."

(New York, March 30, 2023) - Today, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor issued a nationwide injunction striking down a key component of the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Preventative Services Taskforce, retroactively to the inception of ACA in March of 2010. The basis is that the advisory committee was created in violation of the Appointments Clause in the Constitution. He also enjoined HHS from enforcing the USPSTF moving forward.

Lambda Legal HIV Project Director Jose Abrigo issued the following statement:

"We are dismayed by today's outrageous ruling in Braidwood Management v. Becerra that will put in jeopardy access to coverage of dozens of critical, life-saving preventative health care services, such as PrEP, impacting especially vulnerable populations.

"The case, while initially brought to target the HIV prevention medication PrEP and the LGBTQ+ community now has national implications that could harm millions of individuals. Judge Reed O'Conner's decision has struck down the authority of the US Preventative Services Taskforce (USPSTF), which decides which preventative services must be covered by insurance companies participating in the markets established by the Affordable Care Act.

"In the judge's order, all decisions made by the USPSTF after 2010 were deemed void and the Department of Health and Human Services are enjoined from enforcing the USPSTF's decisions. This decision is a national injunction and will harm millions of people. The overreach of this decision not only affects PrEP but nearly all preventative care services such as breast and cervical cancer screenings, STI screenings, behavioral counseling, and others. Insurance companies under the ACA now are no longer required to cover many crucially needed preventive services without cost sharing. This is a blow to our national healthcare system writ large and will inevitably lead to an unhealthier public and puts lives at risk.

"The case also took the dangerous step of expanding the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act to prevent coverage of PrEP over religious objections because it could potentially promote homosexuality and promiscuity. The case makes an outrageous leap. It expands RFRA from preventing actions directly correlated to religious objections to also preventing actions which could potentially lead to religious objection. The case lays the dangerous groundwork that any potential religious objection- no matter how attenuated- could be covered by RFRA. Contrary to the decision's underlying assumptions, PrEP is a neutral medication used by everyone to prevent HIV. The ruling takes the outdated understanding that HIV is a gay epidemic rather than a global one. It is used by heterosexual women who want to safely conceive and others who might not identify as LGBTQ+ but are at risk of contracting HIV. PrEP has benefitted the entire nation in fighting the HIV epidemic and it must continue to be covered.

"Lambda Legal is committed to fighting for our community against this unjust ruling in the courts by submitting amicus briefs, supporting efforts to stay the ruling pending appeal, and working with the Federal government to ensure that preventative services and PreP continue to be covered."

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education, and public policy work.www.lambdalegal.org

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