Federal judge in Texas gives new blow to ‘Obamacare’. What is it about?

() — A federal judge in Texas ruled Thursday that some mandates of the Affordable Care Act (also known as ACA or Obamacare) cannot be applied throughout the countryincluding those that require insurers to cover a wide range of preventive care services at no cost to the patient, including some screening tests for cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and smoking cessation programs.

In the new ruling, US District Judge Reed O’Connor it overturned recommendations issued by the US Preventive Services Task Force, charged with determining some of the preventive treatments that Obamacare requires to be covered.

O’Connor’s sentencing comes after the judge said the Task Force’s recommendations violated the Constitution’s Nominating Clause. The judge also ruled illegal the ACA’s requirement that insurers and employers offer plans that cover HIV prevention measures such as PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, free of charge.

Other ACA preventive care mandates remain in effect.

The case is likely to be appealed, and the Justice Department has the option of asking that O’Connor’s sentence be put on hold while the appeal is litigated.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to ‘s request for comment, nor did the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The decision, in a case brought by Texas employers and individuals, represents the latest legal attack on the landmark 2010 healthcare law. It’s unclear what immediate practical effect O’Connor’s new ruling will have for job-based policy holders and in the Affordable Care Act, because insurance companies are likely to keep coverage free for the rest of their contracts even if the Obamacare requirements in question have been blocked.

Although the case does not pose the existential threat to the Affordable Care Act that previous legal challenges did, legal experts say the O’Connor ruling jeopardizes some Americans’ access to a range of preventative treatments.

“We lose a lot of preventive services because health plans can now impose costs,” says Andrew Twinamatsiko, associate director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. “Cost-sensitive people will go without them, especially the poor and marginalized communities.”

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Written by Editor TLN

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