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Affordable Care Act and Lung Health Access Challenged in Texas Court

Sept. 8, 2022 - On Tuesday Sept. 7, 2022, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Affordable Care Act's US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) violates the U.S. Constitution's Delegations Clause and is unconstitutional. Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive services that receive an A or B grade rating from the USPSTF must be offered by health insurance providers – at no cost to patients.   This ruling jeopardizes the availability and affordability of a wide range of preventive health services currently enjoyed by millions of Americans.

The Court’s decision is cause for concern, noted American Thoracic Society President Gregory Downey, MD, ATSF: “While the challenge to the USPSTF was from conservative groups opposed to HIV, STD and drug addiction preventative services claiming that providing those services prompted behavior they opposed – the ruling has profound implications for other services covered under ACA, such as lung cancer screening and tobacco cessation.”

What happens next is unclear. The Court did not order the federal government to stop enforcing the relevant Affordable Care Act provisions. Instead, the Court set a Sept. 9, 2022 deadline for the parties to the case, including the United States, to outline the remaining issues to be decided and to propose a schedule for further arguments to be presented.

Judge O’Connor has ruled against the Affordable Care Act, only to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.  It is expected that the U.S. Department of Justice will appeal this decision.