Jan. 28, 2022
Carson City, NV – Today, Attorney General
Aaron D. Ford announced he has joined a coalition of 19 attorneys
general led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul in filing an amicus brief
in Kelley v. Becerra, defending key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
that guarantees access to preventive care for millions of Americans.
The brief, filed in the U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of Texas, defends the ACA’s preventive
services provisions, which require private health insurers to cover certain
preventive care services, including contraceptive care and prophylactic
anti-HIV care, free of charge. In the brief, the coalition argues that the preventive
services provisions have improved health outcomes for residents and urge the
court to reject the plaintiffs’ challenges.
“The challenge to the ACA’s
preventative services provisions, if upheld, would have a negative impact on
both Americans and their states’ public-health systems,” said AG Ford. “We must ensure that this important preventative
health care is available, and I’m proud to stand with this coalition in working
to safeguard these provisions.
The plaintiffs in the case are
employers who wish to offer their employees health insurance that does not
cover certain preventive services, most notably contraceptive care and
prophylactic anti-HIV care, and employees who wish to purchase health insurance
that does not cover such services. The plaintiffs argue that the
provisions should be eliminated because they violate individuals’ rights under
the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and violate the U.S.
Constitution’s Appointments Clause.
The ACA’s preventive services
provisions incorporate recommendations made by three expert bodies — the U.S.
Preventive Services Task Force (PSTF), the CDC’s Advisory Committee on
Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Health Resources and Services
Administration (HRSA) — in defining the services that must be covered. The
plaintiffs argue that the provisions violate the appointments clause because
those expert bodies have not been appointed by the president and confirmed by
the Senate. In today’s brief, the coalition argues that the federal government
may rely on recommendations made by experts of this kind without violating the
appointments clause. The attorneys general also argue that the plaintiffs have
failed to establish that providing these preventive services substantially
burdens private insurers’ religious beliefs.
The coalition further argues
that the ACA’s preventive services provisions have had a positive impact on
both residents’ individual health and states’ health care systems. The
attorneys general explain that states have come to rely on these provisions in
building and strengthening their own public health systems. The coalition
argues that if the court were to invalidate the preventive services provisions,
it could destabilize and overburden state public-health systems — including
interfering with their abilities to effectively respond to the COVID-19
pandemic — which would have significant consequences for all Americans.
In filing the brief, Attorney
General Ford joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado,
Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The brief is attached.