Appeals Court Leaves Preventive Services Coverage Mandate in Limbo — What’s Next?

Legal odds are growing long for the Affordable Care Act’s preventive services coverage mandate after a June 21 appeals court decision, which didn’t resolve a lawsuit that could undermine the legal authority of federal preventive services experts to recommend those services be covered free of charge by health plans. The next stage of the Braidwood v. Becerra suit will be decided by either the conservative Supreme Court or a federal judge who has issued a series of rulings undermining the ACA.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the federal government can still require health plans to provide some preventive services to plan members free of charge under the Affordable Care Act — for now. The ruling still leaves open the possibility that, in the end, Braidwood could upend the preventive services coverage regime set up by the ACA. In the next step of Braidwood, the Biden administration must decide whether to petition the Supreme Court for an appeal, or let the case be decided by Texas District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, who has repeatedly ruled against provisions of the ACA.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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