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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

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: About 400 to 450 people were inside the protest area, excluding law enforcement, U.S. Capitol Police said.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.

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