President Joe Biden's administration will appeal a Texas federal judge's ruling that struck down a mandate requiring health insurance plans to cover preventative care. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
March 31 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Friday said it would appeal a ruling by a Texas federal judge that struck down a mandate of the Affordable Care Act requiring private health insurance plans to cover preventive care.
On Thursday, District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth ruled in favor of a group of Christian businesses that had argued that the preventive-care mandate violates their religious freedom because it includes coverage of pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs that prevent HIV infection.
With the Biden administration's announcement that it will appeal O'Connor's ruling, the case will go to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Preventive care saves lives, saves families money, and protects and improves our health," the White House said in a statement on Friday. "Because of the ACA, millions of Americans have access to free cancer and heart-disease screenings. This decision threatens to jeopardize critical care."
In his ruling, O'Connor said the businesses had standing because "compulsory coverage for those services violates their religious beliefs by making them complicit in facilitating homosexual behavior, drug use, and sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman."
The services at risk include mammograms for breast cancer among women ages 50 to 74, as well as screenings for colon, cervical and lung cancer, sexually transmitted infections and Type 2 diabetes.
The same businesses also sought to overturn a federal mandate that ACA plans must cover birth control with no out-of-pocket costs. O'Connor ruled against those claims.
The judge ruled in 2018 that the ACA, also known as Obamacare, was unconstitutional for its individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down that ruling in 2021.