A federal appeals court ruled Friday that a Christian-owned business can’t be compelled to cover preventive medications as is required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but it determined a Texas judge carried out an “abuse of discretion” in his prior ruling by blocking federal agencies from enforcing the rule universally. In a decision it characterized as a “mixed bag,” the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services could not force Braidwood Management Inc. to abide by a preventive care mandate in the ACA. The court rejected another ruling, however, and remanded another one back to the lower courts.


ONS Perspective

The ACA, also known as Obamacare, requires insurers to provide preventive services, such as vaccines and standard cancer screenings, at no cost to an enrollee. In this case, Braidwood Management claimed that because screening requirements are decided by appointed boards like the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and not by elected officials, the recommendations are not laws. Therefore, coverage mandates are unconstitutional, Braidwood said. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision to maintain the ACA’s no-cost preventive care mandate is a victory for public health. The ACA mandate is crucial for cancer prevention, ensuring that millions of people can access services like mammograms, colonoscopies, and other cancer screenings at no cost. With projections that the United States will see a record-breaking 2 million new cancer cases in 2024, advocacy for access to recommended cancer screenings is desperately needed. 

For oncology nurses and health advocates, the ruling underscores the need for policies to reduce healthcare disparities. By ensuring no-cost preventive services, the healthcare system can help break down barriers that many patients face in accessing early detection and preventive care. ONS is advocating for policies that promote health equity and improve access to care. Use your voice to support legislative efforts that uphold these provisions and address health disparities.

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How have drug shortages affected your patients and nursing practice? ONS is actively working with the U.S. Congress and the White House to address these shortages, and your input is crucial. Sharing your experiences can greatly aid in our advocacy efforts.