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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

European Super League faces collapse after English soccer teams quit

Fans of Chelsea Football Club protest the European Super League outside Stamford Bridge soccer stadium in London, England. Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images

The European Super League announced in a statement Tuesday night it's "proposing a new competition" and considering the next steps after all six English soccer clubs pulled out of the breakaway tournament.

Why it matters: The announcement that 12 of the richest clubs in England, Spain and Italy would start a new league was met with backlash from fans, soccer stars and politicians. The British government had threatened to pass legislation to stop it from going ahead.

Corporate America finds downside to politics

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Corporate America is finding it can get messy when it steps into politics.

Why it matters: Urged on by shareholders, employees and its own company creeds, Big Business is taking increasing stands on controversial political issues during recent months — and now it's beginning to see the fallout.

Church groups say they can help the government more at border

A mural inside of Casa del Refugiado in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Stef Kight/Axios

Despite the separation between church and state, the federal government depends upon religious shelters to help it cope with migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Why it matters: The network supports the U.S. in times of crisis, but now some shelter leaders are complaining about expelling families to Mexico when they have capacity — and feel a higher calling — to accommodate them.