Below is a statement from Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, in response to today’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor striking down a major provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires no-cost coverage of lifesaving preventive healthcare services, including breast cancer screenings, colorectal and other cancer screenings, anxiety and depression screenings for children and adults, heart disease screenings, intimate partner violence screenings, and access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which can reduce the chance of contracting HIV.
While this ruling applies nationwide, California has enshrined these rights in state-regulated health plans. However, the 6 million Californians covered by federally-regulated health plans are now at risk of losing these protections.
“Once again, the Texas judge who has repeatedly sought to undermine and undo the Affordable Care Act has done it again, upending the patient protections in place for over a dozen years that ensure access to preventive care at no cost.
“Hopefully, this ruling will be enjoined and overturned. Thankfully, California law will continue these crucial consumer protections to cover preventive care with no cost-sharing. Health Access was proud to support a number of bills since the ACA’s passage to ensure this coverage, including AB 2345 (De La Torre) of 2010, SB 1053 (Mitchell) of 2014, and SB 406 (Pan) of 2020 requiring no-cost coverage of preventive services, and other efforts to ensure that Californians are shielded from the sabotage of ACA attacks. Unfortunately, this requirement does not extend to federally-regulated plans, like those offered by many large employers, which cover nearly 6 million Californians.
“Americans need more prevention in our health system, not less. Patients need more access to care without the financial barrier of co-pays and cost-sharing, and this decision goes in exactly the wrong direction for our health system. While most Californians might not immediately experience any change, since state protections and many large employers will continue their current benefit designs for now, this decision introduces unwelcome uncertainty for patients and providers. Preventive health care shouldn’t be subject to these continued political attacks. We need to not just protect our progress but be actively promoting prevention.
“This lawsuit started as a discriminatory pushback on preventive services for LGBTQ communities and is an example of how an attack on some often becomes an attack on all, threatening access for everyone.”