Richard H. Hughes, IV, Member of the Firm in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in Axios, in “Court Upholds ACA’s Free Preventive Services Mandate,” by Maya Goldman.

Following is an excerpt:

Health insurers nationwide must continue to provide coverage of certain preventive services like cancer screenings and behavioral counseling at no cost, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

Why it matters: The decision in the closely watched case largely preserves the Affordable Care Act's free preventive services requirement.

However, the appellate panel said the requirement won't apply to the companies who challenged it, and it asked a lower court to review the legality of other no-cost preventive services.

Catch up quick: Two Christian-owned companies sued the federal government in 2020 over the requirement that their employer-sponsored insurance plans cover preventive medicines for HIV at no cost.

They argued the coverage requirement, issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, was invalid because the panel lacked authority since its members weren't Senate-confirmed.

A Texas federal judge last yearblocked the federal government from requiring insurers provide free coverage of services recommended by USPSTF.

However, the nationwide injunction was put on hold while the case moved through the appeals process and never took effect.

The latest: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the nationwide injunction, saying it went too far.

However, it did agree with the lower court that the task force's members should be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The 5th Circuit alsocalled on the lower court to revisit whether the federal government has properly approved requirements that insurers cover other preventive care services outside of the USPSTF's scope, like vaccines and contraception.

The court described its own ruling as "something of a mixed bag."

The bottom line: "Across the board, this continues to leave in jeopardy the requirement to provide hundreds of millions of Americans with access to prep for HIV, disease screenings, vaccines and contraceptives," Richard Hughes, a health care lawyer at Epstein Becker Green, told Axios.

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