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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A group of Senate Republicans are responding to the latest Affordable Care Act lawsuit with a bill that would replace the pre-existing conditions protections the lawsuit would throw out.

Why it matters: While likely to be good politics heading into midterms, the GOP bill would both lower premiums and leave sick people less protected than they currently are. This is the circle that the party has been unable to square for a year and a half now.

Driving the news: The bill, led by Sen. Thom Tillis, reaffirms some of the pre-existing conditions regulations that would be gutted if the Justice Department's argument prevails in court. Oral arguments for the case begin Sept. 5.

  • The bill requires insurers to provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and prohibits insurers on the individual market (but not the small group market) from charging those people higher premiums.
  • But unlike under the ACA, insurers could exclude coverage of the services associated with pre-existing conditions. The Justice brief argues all three ACA provisions should be invalidated.
  • "It’s a very imperfect replacement for the ACA provisions that would be thrown out in the Texas case if you’re goal is to protect people with pre-existing conditions," said Kaiser's Larry Levitt.

Between the lines: While this bill doesn't need to be perfectly written to work as a political statement, it does illustrate the tension that the party has faced since it began its ACA replacement work last year: Pre-existing conditions protections are both the most expensive and the most popular part of the ACA.

  • "It’s an intelligent political response to the continued criticism that Democrats are charging — that Republicans are not supportive of pre-existing conditions," said Chris Condeluci, a Republican health care lawyer.
  • Yet time and again, Republicans have put forward ideas that would keep pre-existing conditions protections in name but weaken them compared to current law, usually in an attempt to get costs down.

What they're saying: The bill has already drawn criticism from Democrats. "If you still doubted that the issue of the cycle is health care, look no further than the panicked GOP effort to cover up their tracks on the defining issue of the cycle," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein.

  • Tillis spokesman Adam Webb responds: "This twenty page bill is not comprehensive health care legislation...This legislation protects Americans with pre-existing conditions so that they cannot be denied coverage or charged more based on health status – two of the central protections contested in Texas vs. United States."

Go deeper

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.

Del Rio bridge camp empty following Haitian migrant surge

A boy bathes himself in a jug of water inside a migrant camp at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sept. 21 in Del Rio, Texas. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The last migrants camping under the Del Rio International Bridge, which connects Texas and Mexico, departed on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during a White House press briefing.

Driving the news: Thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, had arrived to the makeshift camp after crossing the southern border seeking asylum. Roughly 1,800 migrants will now head to U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing centers.