U.S. District Court ruling threatens access to free, lifesaving cancer screenings under the Affordable Care Act


Kyra Meister

Alexandria, Va. – Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor struck down a requirement in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a ruling that threatens access to preventive care services—including but not limited to colonoscopies, mammograms and Pap tests—for millions of Americans.

Judge O’Connor’s ruling applies to a crucial provision of the ACA that requires insurers to cover preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) at no cost to the patient. Before this ruling, coverage was required on a wide range of these preventive services, but this week’s decision blocks coverage requirements for any recommendations made before the ACA was signed into law and would apply nationwide, having a massive effect on free preventive care for cancer, depression, diabetes and HIV. (While the USPSTF had recommended some preventive services prior to the ACA becoming law, nearly all recommendations have been updated or expanded since that date.) The Biden administration is likely to appeal the ruling.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation strongly opposes the decision eliminating free coverage of preventive services and urges the federal government to appeal the ruling. Routine cancer screening can detect cancer early (even if you have no signs or symptoms) and early detection of cancer can mean less extensive treatment, more treatment options and better chances of survival. This ruling jeopardizes the opportunity for millions of Americans to check their health in an affordable, accessible way.

“Prevention and early detection saves lives, and it really is as simple as that,” said Jody Hoyos, CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. “Increasing the costs people pay for prevention and early detection services, such as routine cancer screenings, and limiting access, will lead to diagnoses of cancers at later stages. We have made great strides in reducing death and suffering from cancer because it was made a priority. Going backwards and restricting access does not serve the people of this country.”

The Prevent Cancer Foundation is deeply committed to advocating for access to preventive care on behalf of all people and will continue to monitor this issue. For more information on free and low-cost cancer screenings, please visit our website.


About the Prevent Cancer Foundation®

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is the only U.S.-based nonprofit organization solely dedicated to cancer prevention and early detection. Through research, education, outreach and advocacy, we have helped countless people avoid a cancer diagnosis or detect their cancer early enough to be successfully treated. We are driven by a vision of a world where cancer is preventable, detectable and beatable for all 

The Foundation is rising to meet the challenge of reducing cancer deaths by 40% by 2035. To achieve this, we are committed to investing $20 million for innovative technologies to detect cancer early and advance multi-cancer screening, $10 million to expand cancer screening and vaccination access to medically underserved communities, and $10 million to educate the public about screening and vaccination options.

For more information, please visit www.preventcancer.org.