A Texas federal judge blocks Obamacare screening mandates statewide

A federal judge in Texas on Thursday struck down part of Obamacare, which requires insurers to cover cancer screening and other preventive services free of charge.

US District Judge Reed O’Connor, presiding in Fort Worth, ruled in September that a mandate requiring coverage for pre-exposure prophylaxis against HIV or PrEP drugs violated freedom of religion.

He also said that the US Preventive Services Task Force, which recommends services requiring no-cost coverage, is unconstitutional because it is a voluntary body that does not respond to Congress but issues binding rules.

Thursday’s action prevented the administration from enforcing the coverage mandates, reviving the Obamacare wars and signaling that another case against the Affordable Care Act could reach the Supreme Court.

Judge O’Connor, a judge appointed by President George W. Bush, previously ruled in a lawsuit against Obamacare that focused on Congress zeroing the tax penalty for the individual mandate, though the Supreme Court later ruled the law of 2010 confirmed.

The latest case has been brought forward by Texas individuals and businesses, including Christians, who have opposed coverage of HIV medication, birth control, the HPV vaccine, and screening and behavioral counseling for STDs and drug use.

They feared that “facilitating homosexual behavior, drug use and sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman would make them complicit,” court documents said.

Democrats reacted furiously to the ruling, calling it a rogue judge’s action that is likely to be overturned on appeal.

“The decision to remove the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for coverage for preventive care puts access to life-saving care at risk, including mammograms, lung and skin cancer screening, prenatal and newborn screening, and PrEP. It has no legal basis, will create unnecessary confusion and endanger lives if people are forced to forgo routine screening and treatment,” said New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone.

Mr Pallone urged insurers to offer preventive services free of charge while an appeal is pending.

“I’ll check with the insurers for their written commitments,” he said.

Source : www.washingtontimes.com

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