Federal Judges Doubt ObamaCare’s Authority on Preventative Care

(RepublicanNews.org) – A panel of three federal appeals judges reviewed a ruling that would stop health insurers from having to cover the costs of numerous types of preventative care on Monday, March 4th. The judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans heard an appeal aimed at preventing District Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling in Braidwood v. Becerra that found a particular clause within the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” to be unconstitutional.

O’Connor took exception to the clause that allows a task force made up of volunteers with medical expertise to decide which aspects of preventative health care must be covered by insurers at no extra cost to patients. O’Connor cited the “Appointment Clause” of the Constitution, which dictates how government officials can be selected for their duties. In the case of the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, none of the members are confirmed by the Senate or appointed or supervised by the president, which O’Connor determined made them ineligible to wield the legal power to force insurers to cover particular services.

As it stands, the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover around 100 preventative services at no extra cost to the patient. These services include HIV screening, the prescription of statins, and screening for some types of cancer and mental health problems. Daniel Aguilar, attorney for the Justice Department, told the court that such preventative measures are vital to save the lives of millions of Americans, with 150 million Americans estimated to be on health insurance plans that would be affected by the ruling.

While the three-panel judges did not indicate how they intended to rule, the two judges appointed by former president Donald Trump were known to be skeptical towards the Affordable Care Act before their appointments. During the March 4th hearing the two Trump appointees, Circuit Judge Cory Wilson and Circuit Judge Don Willett, both questioned the Justice Department’s argument that O’Connor’s ruling, if applied, should only apply to the state of Texas – the state in which the plaintiffs for Braidwood v. Becerra reside. Aguilar condemned O’Connor’s nationwide recommendation as overreach, but Willett and Wilson suggested that if the ruling applied to Texans, it would apply equally across the country.

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