In an effort to protect no-cost access to preventive services such as colorectal cancer screening, the U.S. Justice Department is seeking a stay in the Braidwood V. Becerra case ruling and will appeal the decision to the Fifth Circuit. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance applauds the Department’s action to uphold an important purpose of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
In the ACA, Congress sought to reduce barriers to cancer screening and other preventive services by requiring that insurers cover these without co-pay. However, last month U.S. District Court Judge O’Connor in Texas ruled this unconstitutional because the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which develops preventive services recommendations, is a volunteer organization whose recommendations are not reviewed by constitutionally appointed government officials.
Without a stay of Judge O’Connor’s order and getting the decision overturned on appeal, patients will lose the federal law guarantee of numerous no-cost preventive services, including screening for colorectal cancer. This ruling would impact all USPSTF recommendations made after March 2010, and many existing recommendations before that date have been updated and are also subject to the ruling.
“The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is grateful that the Justice Department is taking immediate steps to stop the implementation of this decision,” said Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Alliance. “Allowing insurers to charge for colorectal cancer screenings will have an immediate negative and potentially devastating impact on colorectal cancer prevention.”
In addition to the ruling regarding the USPSTF, O’Connor also ruled that requiring coverage of HIV prevention and treatment drugs violates the Religious Freedom Act.
The Braidwood decision is another in a long series of Texas rulings seeking to invalidate some or all of the ACA. Several of those decisions were made by Judge O’Connor, who ruled the law was unconstitutional in 2018 and then overturned the law’s anti-discrimination requirement in 2019.
Many health plans have indicated they will continue coverage without a co-pay for the immediate future. Nevertheless, we recommend patients verify coverage with their insurer before receiving the screening service.
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