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CHLPI Condemns Court Decision Threatening Access to Preventive Health Care for People at Risk of HIV, Hepatitis C, Cancer, and other Chronic Health Conditions

The Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School today released the following statement from Liz Kaplan, Director of Health Care Access, condemning yesterday’s court ruling in Braidwood Management v. Becerra. The decision prohibits the federal government from enforcing a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result, most health insurance plans are no longer required to cover many preventive health care services at no cost to the consumer.

“Yesterday’s decision from a single federal trial court in Texas threatens access to life-saving preventive care for more than one hundred million people, including many at risk of serious chronic health conditions. By preventing the government from ensuring affordable access to preventive services that are effective, up-to-date, and evidence-based, the court has needlessly undermined a critical aspect of the ACA.

“The law the court has cast aside helps protect people from life-threatening conditions like HIV, hepatitis C, and lung and other cancers. It also reduces barriers to accessing preventive services that are an important tool in combatting health disparities among people with lower income, People of Color, and the LGBTQ+ community. The court’s decision undermines efforts to reduce these disparities and improve health equity, and reinforces harmful, stigmatizing messages that impede the fight to end HIV.

“The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) is committed to fighting these harmful decisions in coalition with our partners and allies. We are prepared to work creatively and collaboratively with federal and state officials, insurers, providers, and other stakeholders to ensure access to preventive services remains a reality, especially for people at greatest risk of developing chronic health conditions.”

The court struck down any federal agency action since the ACA was signed into law that implements the ACA’s mandate that most health insurance plans cover all services with a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation of A or B, including HIV preventive medications, hepatis screening, and certain cancer screenings and preventive treatments. For reasons including the widespread popularity of such services among insurers, providers, and patients, immediate changes are unlikely in most health insurance plans. Other factors are in play as well, including the possibility that the court’s ruling may be stayed pending appeal, which would prevent the ruling from taking effect until any appeals are resolved. Still, yesterday’s decision represents a significant step backward for public health. The decision threatens to accentuate health disparities, deterring people in systemically marginalized communities from accessing life-saving preventive care.

CHLPI is analyzing the court’s decision and its implications for people impacted and plans to release additional materials to help patients, providers, advocates, and others understand and navigate the potential outcomes.

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