Democrats are using a federal judge’s ruling against Obamacare prevention coverage as an opportunity to campaign to preserve health care just two months before the midterm elections.
Wednesday’s ruling by Texas Judge Reed O’Connor escalates another battle over Obamacare, and could jeopardize access to preventative care for millions of Americans, including colorectal screenings and other cancers, depression and high blood pressure, among many other services. .
Work to salvage the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has proven effective for Democrats in the past: The party used the Republican Party’s bid to repeal the law in 2017 to launch a successful campaign in 2018 to take control of the House of Representatives. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade gave Democrats another health problem to spur their base — and now they appear to be looking to build on that strategy with O’Connor’s ruling.
“With the Republican Party’s utter disdain for our health, safety, and freedom, it is only a matter of time before a drug, treatment, vaccine, or other health service becomes the next target for their extremism,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He said in a statement shortly after the ruling.
Pelosi also indicated that Democrats will look to link the ruling directly to the Republican Party’s “radical MAGA” agenda and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“This extreme ruling from MAGA comes just months after the Republican-controlled Supreme Court ignored precedent and privacy in overturning Roe v. Wade. Since then, House Republicans have orchestrated a dangerous and dangerous campaign to punish our personal decisions, from abortion sponsorship to the setting up of abortion,” Pelosi said. Offspring and more.
It’s a “very straight line” between the Supreme Court’s abortion decision and O’Connor’s ruling, Frederic Essai, executive director of liberal group Families USA, said.
“I think the big signal here is another example… where a small group of people with hard-line ideological or religious views are changing our laws now to restrict people’s freedom and ability to access health care services,” Isasi said.
While issues such as inflation, gas prices and immigration dominated the campaign rhetoric from the Republican Party, Democrats were attacking Republicans on health issues such as abortion and the cost of prescription drugs. O’Connor’s decision injects more fuel into the fight.
“As an ovarian cancer survivor of thirty-five years, I am outraged that this judge will take us back to the days before the ACA when individuals suffered pain and even death because coverage for routine cancer screenings was not guaranteed without cost-sharing,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn. ).
DeLauro said the ruling shows that “conservatives are on the bench in a march to overturn a number of hard-earned freedoms for Americans.”
O’Connor has a history of ruling against Obamacare, as well as other Democratic policies. In 2018, O’Connor sided with a coalition of Republican attorneys general and struck down the entire health bill as unconstitutional, a decision that was eventually overturned in the Supreme Court in 2020.
The Biden administration said it is reviewing the ruling and is expected to appeal. Additional briefings from both sides were scheduled for Friday, but O’Connor granted an extension until September 16.
Under ObamaCare, any service or drug that receives a Level A or B recommendation from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a panel of volunteer experts, must be automatically added to the list of free services covered by insurers.
There are more than 100 services on the menu, and experts say the requirement has led to better health outcomes
But O’Connor ruled that any services recommended by USPSTF members were invalid because they were “unconstitutionally designated.”
The ruling also specifically targeted a regimen of HIV drugs known as Prior Exposure Prevention, or PrEP. O’Connor said Obamacare’s requirement to fully cover PrEP violates the religious freedom of a company owned by Stephen Hotsey, a well-known Republican donor who has challenged Obamacare on other occasions.
Hotez argued that compulsory coverage of PrEP “facilitates and encourages homosexual behavior, intravenous drug use, and extramarital sexual activity between a man and a woman.”
Katie Keith, director of the health policy and law initiative at Georgetown University School of Law, said O’Connor did not specify how broad the decision would be. It can only apply to the plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit, or it can overturn the entire ACA ruling.
Keith said it was “disappointing” to see another legal challenge to the ACA.
“We now know that access to all of these incredibly important and evidence-based preventive services is at risk,” Keith said. “If we miss these provisions, we will really go back to the era of Affordable Care Act where every single employer and insurance company can pick and choose what preventive services they want to cover and whether they can charge a cost-sharing fee.”
Health care has not been the subject of a winning campaign for Republicans in recent sessions. Since its failure to repeal the Health Act in 2017, the Republican Party has been largely silent on the subject of ObamaCare.
Weak GOP candidates have also recently softened their language regarding abortion and even tried to remove references to previous comments on the issue from their campaign websites.
Isasi said that if Republicans oppose O’Connor’s decision, they should speak up.
We know this is a judge very allied with Republican politics. It is very ideological. It is the duty of the conservative members of the [Republican Party] “I’m talking and saying that’s far-fetched,” Isasi said.