Appeals Court Temporarily Pauses Texas Ruling That Overturned Obamacare Requirement

A federal appeals court Monday partially paused a ruling from a Texas district court judge that jeopardized access to free preventive care for 150 million Americans.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit granted the Biden administration’s request for a partial administrative stay while Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling is appealed.

The stay will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to continue to mandate most health plans to cover, without cost-sharing, certain preventive health services.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover, without cost-sharing, more than 100 preventive health services recommended by the U.S Preventive Services Task Force.

A lawsuit challenged that requirement, and an injunction from O’Connor ended it nationwide and invalidated the entire task force, because its members are not appointed by the president or confirmed by the Senate, yet its recommendations are binding.

O’Connor also invalidated the law’s requirement that health plans cover HIV treatment. He said the mandate forced the plaintiff, a Christian employer and well-known GOP donor, to pay for insurance that covers HIV prevention drugs.

O’Connor’s ruling applied nationwide, even though the lawsuit only concerned one company.

The administration appealed in April and requested a stay of the nationwide impact of the ruling, arguing the court overstepped its authority by expanding a targeted injunction against a single company to an order that jeopardizes care for more than 150 million people.

The government said it was not appealing the targeted order, as it specifically precludes them from enforcing the preventive services mandate against the company that sued.

“The district court’s judgment extinguished the rights of 150 million Americans—not parties to this case—who are otherwise protected” by the law that’s been in place for 13 years, the administration wrote in its latest filing.

In the appeal, the administration argued that limiting the injunction to the plaintiffs wouldn’t cause them any harm because they would still benefit from the portion of the judgment that applies to them.

“The requirement for health plans to cover preventive services without cost sharing has been demonstrated to save lives,” the government said. “Its elimination would do the opposite.”


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