Cancer screenings save lives. From a purely humanitarian perspective, preventative health services like mammograms and colonoscopies are critical life-saving that are minimally invasive and relatively low cost for healthcare providers.

And a federal judge may have just taken away these types of preventative screenings.

Nearly 168 million Americans on both employer health insurance and who have purchased coverage through the Affordable Care Act are at risk of losing free access to preventative services. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, a Texas judge with a track record of ruling against the ACA, ruled in favor of conservative employers in the state. Those presenting the case argued that the U.S. Prevention Services Task Force isn’t constitutional, despite the PSTF being in place for more than a decade.

Texas Judges Limits Preventative Health Services: What’s the Legal Basis?

The ruling supported the employers’ objection to mandatory preventative measures. In O’Conner’s brief, he justified their suit because “compulsory coverage for those services violates their religious beliefs by making them complicit in facilitating homosexual behavior, drug use, and sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman.”

The pivotal element of the suit wasn’t religious exemption, however. Instead, they argued that the  Appointments Clause, which notes that policy decisions much be made by an elected or appointed government official, is not fulfilled by medical experts advising the government.

To be clear; the decisive case made by the conservative challengers here is that we should listen to elected politicians instead of doctors. They appear to have lost their concerns about “big government”.

What Happens Next to the Affordable Care Act?

The Biden Administration is expected to appeal the decision, moving the case to the 5th US Court of Appeals. The administration is expected to object most forcibly to the ruling’s impact on HIV and cancer screenings, two preventative measures that have suffered in the past three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is a chance that this case could reach the Supreme Court, which has eaten away at the ACA from the edges while largely upholding the program’s legality.

Prevention Matters

These preventative health services are especially important to the lower-income Americans who statically rely on the ACA for healthcare. Single individuals earning between $13,590 and $54,360 are eligible to subsidizes plans, with a family of three earning up to $92,120 also eligible. Without mandatory preventative services, up to 168 million Americans face an increased risk of discovering tumors and other health problems once symptoms begin – often making treatment more invasive, more expensive and less effective.

Keep prevention a priority. Join the Less Cancer Hike and Bike America and help our team advocate for access to quality healthcare and preventative services.