Washington, D.C.—Today U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor issued a ruling that may lead Affordable Care Act-compliant health plans to deny coverage for or reinstate cost-sharing for certain preventive health services. The ruling declared the method of appointment of officers to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force unconstitutional, meaning its recommendations may no longer be guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act. These recommended services ensure affordability to millions and include proven cancer screenings for breast, colorectal, cervical, and lung cancer.
A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:
“This ruling threatens to erode more than a decade of progress reducing cancer deaths and suffering. Having guaranteed, no-cost coverage of proven preventive and screening services—like those for breast, colorectal, cervical, and lung cancer—has enabled more people to get timely, life-saving screenings without facing potentially unaffordable out-of-pocket costs.
“Research has repeatedly shown the benefit of these screenings in both lives and dollars saved. Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, high costs and unclear coverage were repeatedly cited among the top reasons people delayed or skipped screenings. We cannot risk returning to a system wherein every individual has to interpret their complex insurance plans to determine if a recommended mammogram will be covered or to determine how much their colonoscopy may cost.
“We strongly urge the government to swiftly appeal this ruling. Cancer patients, survivors and all those at risk for the disease cannot face undue barriers around cost and coverage of these services. Such changes would be especially concerning when screening rates continue to be unacceptably low, largely due to the pandemic.”