Judge Reed O’Connor, a Bush appointee for the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, ruled yesterday that paying for PrEP via the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. PrEP, when taken daily, prevents HIV infection.
“In the suit, a group of self-described Christian business owners and employees in Texas argue that the preventive care mandates violate their constitutional right to religious freedom by requiring companies and policyholders to pay for coverage that conflicts with their faith and personal values. The lawsuit was filed in 2020 by Austin attorney Jonathan Mitchell, the legal mind behind Texas’ civilly enforced six-week abortion ban. In the suit, Mitchell also challenges the entire framework through which the federal government decides what preventive services get covered.”
The lawsuit specifically addresses PrEP, but O’Connor’s ruling, which addresses how the federal government can decide what preventive care is covered in employer health care plans, may end up having much more wide-reaching consequences.