Insurance coverage

Texas federal judge rules against health insurance coverage required for HIV prevention drugs

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that required coverage of an HIV prevention drug under the Affordable Care Act violates a Texas employer’s religious beliefs and undermines the system more broad that determines which preventive medications are covered in the United States.

The ruling was made by Fort Worth-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, who ruled in 2018 that the entire ACA was invalid. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately overturned that decision.

O’Connor’s latest decision targets a mandate under the law that requires employers to cover HIV prevention treatment known as PrEP, which is a pill taken daily to prevent infection.

The challenge was issued by a company owned by Steven Hotze, a Texas conservative activist who is described in the lawsuit as operating Braidwood Management “according to Christian principles and teaching.” It was filed by an architect of Texas abortion law which was the strictest in the country before the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade earlier in June.

Four Named in Braidwood Management v. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra were looking to be able to purchase health insurance that did not include medication to prevent HIV infection, contraception, the HPV vaccine, or testing and counseling for STDs and drug use.

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The impact of the decision beyond the plaintiffs was not immediately clear. But opponents have condemned the decision as a threat to patients far beyond Texas.

“Defendants do not show a compelling interest in forcing private religious corporations to cover PrEP drugs without cost-sharing and without religious exemptions,” O’Connor wrote in his ruling.

See: How much does in vitro fertilization cost? Is it affected by abortion bans?

He also ruled that a federal task force that recommends preventive treatment coverage, made up of volunteer members, violates the appointment clause of the US Constitution.

The Biden administration is likely to appeal. The US Department of Health and Human Services, the subject of the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

MarketWatch contributed.

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