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CHLPI Statement on Fifth Circuit’s Decision in Braidwood v. Becerra

June 21, 2024

The Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School today released the following statement from Carmel Shachar, Faculty Director of CHLPI’s Health Law and Policy Clinic, in response to today’s decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Braidwood v. Becerra:

“The Fifth Circuit aptly called this decision a ‘mixed bag.’ The Court did agree with the district court that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force was not properly appointed and so its recommendations regarding no cost preventive care have constitutional issues. But CHLPI is relieved at the current result, which the Fifth Circuit limits to only the plaintiffs in this case—and not the more than 150 million other people who rely on private insurance for access to care. This aspect of the decision ensures that—for now—life-saving preventive care remains accessible and affordable to most people with private insurance.

“However, CHLPI remains very concerned about the long-term potential impacts of the Fifth Circuit’s decision. Although the Court ruled that, for procedural reasons, the current decision only affects the plaintiffs’ insurance coverage, the Court left the door open for a future, broader ruling that could undermine the ACA preventive services mandate nationwide. Notably, such a ruling could apply not only to services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, but also to services recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Health Resources Services Administration. Combined, these three agencies recommend a host of preventive services that are important for maintaining health, including many types of cancer screenings, drugs to prevent HIV, vaccines, and services recommended specifically for women and children.”

CHLPI is continuing to analyze the decision and its implications and plans to release additional materials to help patients, providers, advocates, and others understand and navigate the potential outcomes. For more information about the ACA Preventive Care mandate and this case, see our recent Health Care in Motion. We will update our FAQ on Braidwood shortly. 

You can access the decision here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/24769671-braidwood-decision

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