- The American Hospital Association, along with other medical organizations, filed a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals last week asking to restore the preventive services mandate of the Affordable Care Act, pending appeal.
- The brief argues that patients are less likely to use preventive services if they must pay for these services.
- The medical associations said preventive health services are essential to increase longevity and quality of life and that medical evidence should dictate preventive care recommendations rather than political considerations.
The AHA filed the brief along with the Federation of American Hospitals, Catholic Health Association of the United States, America’s Essential Hospitals and the Association of American Medical Colleges.
A stay in the case, Braidwood Management v. Becerra, would require health plans to fully cover preventive services pending the results of an appeal.
On March 30, Judge Reed O’Connor in U.S. District Court for Northern Texas nullified the preventive services mandate of the Affordable Care Act that made routine screenings for HIV, colorectal cancer, diabetes and mental illness free. O’Connor ruled that a task force of expert panels that recommended preventive care be covered violated the Constitution because the panel’s members were not appointed by the president or confirmed by the Senate. In 2018, O’Connor ruled the entire ACA was unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court then upheld the ACA in a 7-2 decision.
The Biden administration filed a notice of appeal against the ACA preventive mandate ruling one day after the decision was announced.
The Texas court’s ruling could hamper access to services such as lung cancer treatment, heart disease and medications that lower the risk of breast cancer, the brief stated.
“A partial stay pending appeal is manifestly in the public interest,” the court brief stated. “Evidence based preventive-care services free from political influence are essential to patient well-being and population health and lead to lower health care costs over the long term. Upending coverage of preventive-care services will increase the risk that acute illnesses or chronic diseases will not be timely detected or treated.”
Even if the federal court rules to reinstate the preventive care mandate later, the time in which it was thrown out would cause damage to patients, according to the brief.
“Regardless of what this Court decides on the merits, reinstating the ACA’s preventive-care requirement down the road will not remedy the harms that people would suffer in the interim if a partial stay is not granted,” the brief stated. “As it considers this appeal, the Court should preserve the expert, nonpartisan medical judgment of the United States Preventive Services Task Force and keep the preventive-services requirements in place.”