Washington DC — Today, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled to invalidate a key set of preventive health care services that millions of Americans rely on. The Kelley v. Becerra lawsuit threatens the Affordable Care Act (ACA) preventive services requirement that guarantees free access to over 100 preventive health services, including health screenings, routine vaccinations, well baby and child visits, prenatal care, contraception, and more. In 2020 alone, more than 150 million Americans used these services.
Today’s ruling invalidated all of the benefits covered under the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, including lifesaving colorectal and other cancer screenings, depression screenings, hypertension screenings, and access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which can reduce the chance of contracting HIV. Judge O’Connor also threatened to go further and eliminate all of the guaranteed preventive services under the ACA.
In July, 24 organizations representing millions of people with or at risk for serious or chronic illnesses released a letter highlighting the need to protect access to preventive services. Protect Our Care also hosted an event with legal experts to outline the partisan nature of the case and its disastrous impacts. Read more about the case here.
“The free preventive care guaranteed by the ACA for over 150 million Americans has become a bedrock of the American health care system, improving health outcomes, reducing disparities in care, and cutting consumer health care costs,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “This lawsuit was brought by longtime foes of the ACA, abortion rights, women’s health and LGBT rights. Given the dire consequences of this ruling, Judge O’Connor must stay the effects of his order, pending appeal.
“This is a politically-driven lawsuit, financially supported by people with extreme views, and in front of a judge with a proven record of opposition to the ACA. If today’s ruling stands, Americans will again be at the mercy of insurance companies and employers, who could eliminate the benefits or start charging for them, forcing patients to spend thousands of dollars a year for essential care they now get for free. The health and financial security of millions of Americans is at risk.”
The Kelley v. Becerra Plaintiffs Have Repeatedly Sued To Overturn Parts Of The ACA. John Kelley, his wife, and his company, Kelley Orthodontics filed an earlier and similar class action lawsuit against the ACA’s contraceptive mandate known as DeOtte v. Azar. Another plaintiff, Braidwood Management, owned by Dr. Steven Hotze, is also a plaintiff in DeOtte and in Kelley and has previously brought and lost challenges to other parts of the ACA. In addition to being a plaintiff in previous efforts to overturn the ACA, Hotze is a vocal advocate for multiple far-right conspiracy theories, claiming COVID-19 was an invention of the “deep state,” suggesting equal rights for LGBTQ+ individuals would lead to child molestation, and bankrolling election fraud vigilantism after making false claims regarding voter fraud in the 2020 election.
The Lead Attorney For The Plaintiffs In Kelley V. Becerra Is One of the Key Authors SB8, Texas’ Vigilante Anti-Abortion Law. The lead attorney for the plaintiffs is Jonathan Mitchell, “who helped craft the Texas abortion law that was designed to evade judicial review by leaving enforcement to private citizens instead of government officials.”
- Mitchell Filed Briefs Arguing the Supreme Court should Overrule its Decisions Protecting Marriage Equality and Invalidating Antisodomy Laws. Mitchell filed a brief in the Dobbs case urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade–and criticized Mississippi for suggesting that the Court could leave in place its 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all states. He said that Obergefell and Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 ruling that invalidated all remaining state antisodomy laws,“are judicial concoctions, and there is no other source of law that can be invoked to salvage their existence.” Mitchell has also referred to PrEP, a life-saving medication that prevents HIV infection as a drug that would “facilitate and encourage homosexual behavior, prostitution, sexual promiscuity, and intravenous drug use.”
The Plaintiffs In Kelley v. Becerra Are Also Represented By The Trump-Aligned America First Legal Foundation. The plaintiffs are “represented by America First Legal Foundation, a nonprofit led by senior members of President Donald Trump’s administration, including Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller.” Former President Trump is slated to deliver the closing address at the America First Agenda Summit on July 26, 2022.
The Judge Who Ruled On Kelley v. Becerra Is Well-Known For His Anti-Obamacare Rulings. According to CNN, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor is, “a Texas-based judge who has become notorious for his rulings against the Affordable Care Act under the Trump and Obama administrations.” O’Connor — an appointee of President George W. Bush and a former advisor to Sen. John Cornyn on the Senate Judiciary Committee — has issued opinions spanning over a decade that would dismantle key Obamacare provisions and now he is about to rule on Kelley v. Becerra.
- Judge O’Connor Has Previously Ruled To Strike Down The Entire ACA, To Overturn Contraceptive Coverage Requirements, To Invalidate Vaccine Mandates, And To Limit LGBTQ+ Rights. O’Connor presided over the last major Obamacare challenge to land on the Supreme Court’s doorstep. In that case, O’Connor invalidated the entire ACA — and his decision was overturned by a 7-2 majority that included four of the Supreme Court’s conservative Justices. In addition to the individual mandate case, O’Connor also sided with Obamacare challengers who took aim at the law’s non-discrimination provisions, its contraceptive coverage requirement, and at insurance provider fees imposed on states through the law. He also recently ruled against the military’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate and has in the past issued decisions against policies that expanded LGBT rights.