FORT WORTH, TX — (09-25-22) — Texas federal Judge Reed O’Connor ruled last week that employers in the state are no longer required to provide coverage for the HIV prevention medication PrEP, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in favor of religious liberty. By doing so the extreme right wing judge is setting HIV prevention back decades in favor of a Christian-owned company called Braidwood Management.
Braidwood, who is one of the plaintiffs in the suit against the federal government, are claiming that compulsory coverage of several preventive medications, including HIV prevention drugs, contraceptives and STD screenings, are an assault on their religious freedom.
The attorney at the helm of the suit is none other than Conservative Jonathan Mitchell, who was the solicitor general of Texas and is known for authoring legislation that curtails abortion rights in the state. While the ruling will likely be appealed, many healthcare leaders and professionals who work in organizations that provide HIV care were outraged at Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision.
“This ruling, if allowed to stand, will set back efforts to end the HIV epidemic, and puts many of our community at serious risk,” said Kevin Burns, executive Director of Action Wellness, which provides linkage to HIV medical care. “It is yet another example of restrictive health care policies that are in direct opposition to sound public health policy.” said Burns.
Bebashi Transition to Hope is one of several local healthcare organizations that provides PrEP as well as programs to assist Texans without health insurance to access PrEP.
“It’s disheartening and it definitely impedes on preventative care,” said Nafisah Houston, director of programs at Bebashi. “It’s dangerous to allow an employer not to provide someone with medication that can assist them. If current or potential PrEP users in Texas cannot access the medication through employment, they will have to rely on clinics or individual providers that offer free PrEP services. You can’t end the epidemic without having preventative care and preventative treatment,” said Houston.
The ruling targeted the aspects of the ACA that conservatives hate, that mandates coverage for precautionary health services as breast cancer screenings, heart disease screenings and vaccines.
JRL CHARTS LGBT Politics News will continue to follow this case and bring you updates as they become available.
Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
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