President Joe Biden’s administration on Monday urged a U.S. appeals court to preserve a federal mandate that requires health insurers to cover preventive care services, including HIV-preventing medication and cancer screenings, at no extra cost to patients. “These are preventive services provisions that are critical and lifesaving to millions of Americans,” Daniel Aguilar, a lawyer for the government, told a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals during arguments in the administration’s appeal.

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA; also known as Obamacare) is yet again undergoing legal scrutiny about its authority that could have far-reaching effects for both patients and healthcare professionals. In the current case, Braidwood Management Inc. v. Becerra, plaintiffs are positing that because ACA taskforce members are not appointed by the U.S. president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, they do not have the authority to dictate insurance coverage. Although their argument focuses on HIV preventive services, the case has the potential to affect insurance coverage for U.S. Preventive Services Task Force–recommended cancer screenings. Overturning this aspect of the ACA would shift to cost-sharing for important cancer prevention and detection measures, creating a financial hurdle for patients and increasing health inequities and disparities.  

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