Attorney General Bonta: We Must Safeguard the ACA’s Preventive Services Mandate

Friday, January 28, 2022
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OAKLAND  California Attorney General Rob Bonta is working to safeguard access to lifesaving, preventive healthcare. Today, Attorney General Bonta joined a coalition of state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in Kelley v. Becerra urging the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to grant the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ motion for summary judgment and to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) preventive services mandate. The mandate requires private insurers to cover certain preventive services, such as cholesterol screening, well-baby and well-child visits, and mammograms, at no cost to consumers.

“Now more than ever, preventive care is vital to our country’s well-being,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Taking away or reducing access to affordable healthcare will weaken our healthcare system – a system that is being pushed to its capacity daily by a global health crisis. The importance of preventive healthcare cannot be understated. Repeal of this provision would set the nation back at a time when we need quality healthcare more than ever.”

Since the ACA became law in 2010, millions of Americans have gained access to life-saving preventive medication and services. A 2018 study found that because of the preventive care provision, 71 million people are now able to receive free vaccines, cancer screenings, and primary care, among other services. Another study of over 60,000 insured adults found that the number of individuals using preventive services such as blood pressure checks, cholesterol checks, and flu vaccinations, rose significantly after the ACA was implemented.

COVID-19’s impact on public health has made access to preventive care more critical. And indeed, the preventive services mandate has reduced the burden the pandemic has placed on state and local public health systems. According to today’s brief, by focusing on preventive rather than reactive care, state health infrastructures are better able to focus on improving population health and preventing the contraction of illness. This alleviates financial and other burdens placed on state public health systems, allowing those systems to address other serious public health issues. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, states with available resources were able to enact rigorous contact-tracing programs. In contrast, states and regions without public health resources or states experiencing other public health crises, were not able to respond as quickly. 

In the amicus brief, the attorneys general also argue that states have invested a significant number of resources into implementing the preventive health services mandate, and a divestment of those resources would be a detriment to public health. 

A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.

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