Under the ACA’s provision, screenings for certain cancers as well as preventive medicines like PrEP for HIV were covered at no cost to patients.
These were among roughly 100 services that the U.S Preventive Services Task Force recommended be covered without cost-sharing.
But U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled on Thursday that the panel itself was unconstitutional because its members were neither appointed by the president or confirmed by the Senate.
About 100 million Americans make use of free preventive services every year and could now have to contend with paying for procedures or medications that they haven’t expected to for years.
The possibility of paying for costly tests or drugs is likely to deter many patients from seeking potentially life-saving services.
Advocates and health organizations were quick to speak out against O’Connor’s decision.
“Today’s ruling striking down the preventive services provision of the Affordable Care Act is a major setback to ending HIV as an epidemic and for improving the health of Americans by preventing the spread of other infectious diseases in the United States,” the Infectious Diseases Society of America said in a statement.
John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of the Small Business Majority advocacy group, said the ruling would “harm” the small business community.
“We urge the Justice Department to appeal this decision swiftly to ensure those in the small business community can continue to access the comprehensive health coverage they depend on,” Arensmeyer said.
An appeal by the Biden administration is likely, but an unsuccessful reversal could send ObamaCare before the Supreme Court once again.