This week, a Texas judge ruled in federal court that the Affordable Care Act cannot mandate employer coverage of drugs that prevent HIV infection if it violates the religious beliefs of the company.
“Defendants do not show a compelling interest in forcing private, religious corporations to cover PrEP drugs with no cost-sharing and no religious exemptions,” the judge wrote in the ruling against HHS. The ruling was based on the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act, which in effect “ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected.”
The ruling on the case, which was originally filed in 2020 by six individuals and two companies, has been met with harsh criticism from LGBTQIA+ and AIDS prevention activist groups.
“This ruling is shocking on every level,” said Mitchell Warren, executive director of the HIV nonprofit AVAC, to NBC News. “It defies evidence, logic, public health and human rights and sets back enormous progress in the fight to end the HIV epidemic.”
The judge, District Judge Reed O’Connor, said coverage of the medication PrEP specifically violated the rights of Braidwood Management, one of the defendants and a Christian-owned company. The judge has given both parties until Friday to file supplemental briefings before he makes a final decision on whether covering PrEP specifically violates the entire Religious Freedoms Restoration Act.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: PAHOMEPAGE.COM
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