On March 30, District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in the Braidwood Management v Becerra case that not only was Braidwood Management not required to cover pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medicine that prevents HIV infection, due to its religious beliefs, but also that the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) had no federal jurisdiction in mandating coverage of various preventive services. This ruling confirmed his prior ruling in September 2022 and threw the future of coverage for preventive services into question.
O’Connor has a history of rulings on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). His ruling in 2018 deemed the ACA unconstitutional due to the elimination of a penalty for people who did not have health insurance. The ruling did not stand when the case was presented to the Supreme Court in 2021. O’Connor had also previously thrown out the antidiscrimination provisions in the ACA in late 2019, according to Bloomberg Law.
This new ruling from O’Connor stays in line with his previous rulings and could affect millions in the United States. The Wall Street Journal estimates that 150 million individuals could lose access to preventive care services after this injunction, as the ACA required all health care providers to provide no-cost preventive care as part of their plans. With PrEP and general preventive services suddenly in danger of becoming inaccessible to those who need them most, the ramifications of these decisions are more important to highlight than ever.