WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Texas ruled Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act’s process for determining what kinds of preventive care must be fully covered by private health insurance is unconstitutional, ramping up yet another legal battle over the 12-year-old law.
The ruling, by Judge Reed O’Connor of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, could jeopardize millions of Americans’ access to preventive services, including cancer screenings, alcohol abuse counseling and drugs that prevent H.I.V. infection. It does not take effect immediately, however, and legal experts said the Biden administration would almost certainly appeal.
Judge O’Connor concluded that the Preventive Services Task Force — a volunteer panel of experts that recommends what kinds of preventive care must be covered under the law — violated the Constitution because its members are not appointed by the president or confirmed by the Senate, yet its recommendations become binding.