A U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is unconstitutional, but ordered a lower court to take a fresh look at how much of the rest of the law should fall along with it.

What's next: This decision will likely keep the ACA's protections for pre-existing conditions in legal limbo well past the 2020 election.

The intrigue: Republican attorneys general have argued that congressional Republicans’ 2017 tax law, which nullified the ACA's individual mandate, made that policy unconstitutional.

  • A panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that it agrees.
  • Republicans, and the Trump administration, have said the courts should strike down the entire law along with the mandate.
  • The 5th Circuit wrestled during oral arguments over how much of the law to strike down, ultimately deciding to kick that question back to the lower court for a new hearing. That lower court previously said the entire law would have to go.

Yes, but: The individual mandate is now essentially toothless, and it turned out not to be particularly effective when it was in effect.

  • So if the court is inclined to strike down the mandate alone, letting the rest of the law stand, that would be a much safer proposition than it appeared to be in 2012.

Go deeper: Government funding bill deal will repeal key ACA taxes

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 33,867,247 — Total deaths: 1,012,341 — Total recoveries: 23,537,059Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 7,229,319 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: The coronavirus' alarming impact on the body.
  5. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  6. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.
Ina Fried, author of Login
3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook removes Trump ads tying refugees to COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook said Wednesday that it was removing a series of ads from President Trump's campaign that linked American acceptance of refugees with increased coronavirus risk, a connection Facebook says is without merit.

Why it matters: The ads were pulled after they received thousands of impressions and are a sign that the Trump campaign continues to test the limits of social media rules on false information.

Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.