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Protestors march in favor of protecting the Affordable Care Act. Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Justice Department now says the courts should strike down the entire Affordable Care Act — not just its protections for pre-existing conditions. The department signaled its new, broader position in a legal filing Monday, part of a lawsuit challenging the law's individual insurance mandate.

Why it matters: A ruling striking down the entire ACA would upend major parts of the health care system. Millions of people would lose their health care coverage, and a host of seemingly unrelated policies — including new experiments in how Medicare pays for care and an entire class of prescription drugs — would also go out the window.

How it works: A federal judge ruled in December that the ACA's individual mandate has become unconstitutional, because of the way Republicans zeroed out the penalty for being uninsured.

  • He said the entire ACA had to fall along with the mandate — the position the Republican attorneys general who brought this lawsuit had advocated.
  • At the time, the Justice Department had agreed that the mandate was unconstitutional, but said only 2 other provisions needed to go — the one requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and the one prohibiting them from charging those customers a higher premium.
  • Now, though, the Justice Department says it agrees with the judge's entire opinion, and won't challenge any part of that ruling as the case heads through the appeals process.

What's next: The case is pending before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals — the most conservative appeals court in the country. From there it would go to the Supreme Court.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 7 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker

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