The Affordable Care Act has managed to survive twelve years, but it finally may meet a slow demise thanks to a lawsuit in Texas that is seeking to obliterate preventive care requirements. The plaintiffs would like to end a provision within the ACA which requires health insurers to provide certain preventive healthcare, like contraceptives, cancer screenings, and drugs that prevent HIV.
The lawsuit, which is now known as Kelley vs. The United States of America, was originally filed in 2020 by a coalition of plaintiffs on behalf of the ultra-rightwing Jonathan Mitchell, the “architect” of the six-week abortion ban in Texas. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor will hear the case in his Fort Worth courtroom.
In 2018, O’Connor ruled on behalf of Texas and other Republican-led states that the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court in 2021 ultimately overruled.
O’Connor was appointed by George W. Bush in 2007 and is a member of the Federalist Society. He has spoken at numerous events of theirs since.
Mitchell’s lawsuit against the ACA claims that the preventive healthcare requirements violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The lawsuit states that Christian plaintiffs should not be forced to purchase health plans that subsidize “abortifacient contraception or PrEP drugs that encourage and facilitate homosexual behavior.”
If O’Connor does rule against the preventive healthcare requirement, the case would likely go to the Fifth Circuit. From there it could potentially wind its way to the Supreme Court, which has not ruled on the ACA since Judge Amy Coney Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg.