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AG Nessel Defends Key Provisions of the Affordable Care Act

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 18 other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in Kelley v. Becerra, defending key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that guarantee access to preventive care for millions of residents.  

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, 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.  

"These provisions of the Affordable Care Act are necessary in ensuring millions of residents across the country have access to preventative care, including contraceptive care and prophylactic anti-HIV care," Nessel said. "It's crucial for the court to uphold these provisions. Invalidating them not only has the potential to destabilize and overburden our public health system but would have significant consequences for our residents." 

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. They 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 require employers to cover certain preventive care services, and the 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, since being enacted in 2010, 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 millions of Americans have relied on the preventive services provisions to obtain no-cost preventive care, which has improved not only the health of those individuals, but public health outcomes more broadly.  

Joining Attorney General Nessel in the brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.