Washington, DC — Today, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network President Lisa Lacasse, National Partnership for Women & Families’ Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, American Public Health Association Executive Director Dr. Georges Benjamin, and Andrew Pincus joined Protect Our Care for a virtual press conference discussing U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s devastating decision to strike down a major provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires no-cost coverage of lifesaving preventive health care services. Today’s decision in Braidwood Management v. Becerra would end ACA’s guaranteed free access to essential preventive services. In 2020 alone, more than 150 million Americans benefited from these preventive services. Read Protect Our Care’s fact sheet here.
Judge O’Connor invalidated all of the benefits covered under the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, including lifesaving breast cancer screenings, colorectal and other cancer screenings, anxiety and depression screenings for children and adults, heart disease screenings, intimate partner violence screenings, and access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which can reduce the chance of contracting HIV. The ruling applies nationwide. During the call, speakers will make clear that this decision is a tragedy for millions of Americans’ access to lifesaving health care services.
“This ruling would undoubtedly negatively impact health outcomes and reverse progress,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “We know that any cost barrier can be a deterrent to accessing evidence-based and potentially lifesaving prevention services – including cancer screenings and early detection. If upheld, this ruling could mean reduced cancer screenings, leading to later stage diagnoses, when cancer is more expensive to treat and survival less likely.”
“Judicial extremism is on clear display here,” said Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, Vice President for health justice at National Partnership for Women & Families. “What started as an attack on LGBTQ people is now undermining preventive health care for all of us. This egregious holding harms women’s access to life-saving care and worsens health inequities. From screenings for depression, diabetes, and heart health to essential pregnancy and postpartum care, critical services are no longer guaranteed to be available without copays or cost-sharing. And even though the ACA’s women-specific preventive services such as contraceptive coverage are safe for now, the motives of the plaintiffs are clear, and we must be on high alert that these services, too, could be at risk as this case moves through the courts.”
“Not only is Judge O’Connor’s decision wrong on the legal merits, it would be highly disruptive to our health care system and roll back health care gains made over the years,” said Andrew Pincus, Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School and experienced Supreme Court and appellate lawyer. “This ruling would eliminate guaranteed free access to life-saving preventive services for more than 150 million Americans.”
“As a physician, the impact of this decision is disastrous for the public,” said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association “The Affordable Care Act was designed to move our health system to address prevention and it has been highly successful in doing that. Preventative services are highly effective, and we know that from a medical perspective, this will undermine our ability to protect people and save lives.”
“The results of this decision will be that more Americans get sick, more Americans will die, and more Americans will have to make painful choices between their health and paying for other essential needs, like food and shelter,” said Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care. “This case was brought by long-term opponents of the ACA who have failed over fifty times to repeal the law in Congress and whose policies were rejected by voters in three straight elections.”