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NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court in New Orleans temporarily put on hold Monday a federal judge’s ruling striking down a part of the Affordable Care Act that requires most insurers to cover preventative care including vaccines and screenings for cancer, diabetes and HIV.
Without comment, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an “administrative stay” of the March 30 ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas.
The Biden administration had asked for a stay as it appealed the March 30 decision. Administration lawyers said in court filings that O’Connor’s decision would affect preventive care for 150 million people.
O’Connor, a nominee of former President George W. Bush, is the same judge who ruled more than four years ago that the entire health care law, a signature achievement of former President Barack Obama, was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court later overturned that ruling.
In his March ruling, O’Conner blocked only the requirement that most insurers cover a range of preventive care. The ruling was a win for plaintiffs who include a conservative activist in Texas and a Christian dentist who opposed mandatory coverage for both contraception and an HIV prevention treatment on religious grounds.
The appeal is in the early stages and the appeals court has not yet set a date for arguments.
The requirements for coverage are driven by recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is made up of volunteers. O’Connor ruled that enforcing the recommendations violated constitutional language on how government officials can be appointed.