Julie Rovner

The Trump administration is refusing to defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, essentially arguing that federal courts should find the health law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional.

The federal lawsuit hinges on the ACA's individual mandate, or the requirement to get health coverage or pay a penalty. The mandate has long been a sticking point for conservatives, who argue that the government should not be telling individuals what coverage they must have.

The Affordable Care Act very nearly failed to become law back in 2010 because of a dispute among Democrats over how to handle abortion in the bill.

Now a similar argument between Democrats and Republicans is slowing progress on a bill that could help cut soaring premiums and help stabilize the ACA.

At issue is the extent to which the Hyde Amendment — language commonly used by Congress to prohibit most federal abortion funding — should be incorporated into any new legislation affecting the health law.

A bipartisan group of senators and House members has been working since last summer toward measures to keep prices from rising out of control and undermining the individual market—the market that serves people who don't get insurance through work or through the government. Members hope to attach a package of fixes to what should be the year's final temporary spending bill, due late this month.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised abortion opponents four specific actions to "advance the rights of unborn children and their mothers."

One year into his presidency, three of those items remain undone. Nevertheless, opponents of abortion have made significant progress in changing the direction of federal and state policies.

A day after President Trump said the Affordable Care Act "has been repealed," officials reported that 8.8 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the federal insurance exchange for 2018 — nearly reaching the 2017 number in half the sign-up time.

That total is far from complete. Enrollment is still open in parts of seven states, including Florida and Texas, that use the federal HealthCare.gov exchange but were affected by hurricanes earlier this year.

Republicans officially pulled the plug on their last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday.

"We don't have the votes," said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., after a closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans. "And since we don't have the votes, we've made the decision to postpone the vote." Cassidy, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., put together the proposal they hoped could pass the Senate.

In his high-stakes strategy to overhaul the federal health law, President Donald Trump is threatening to upend the individual health insurance market. But if the market actually breaks, could anyone put it back together again?

Back in January, Republicans boasted they would deliver a "repeal and replace" bill for the Affordable Care Act to President Donald Trump's desk by the end of the month.

In the interim, that bravado has faded as their efforts stalled and they found out how complicated undoing a major law can be. With summer just around the corner, and most of official Washington swept up in scandals surrounding Trump, the health overhaul delays are starting to back up the rest of the 2018 agenda.

After weeks of will-they-or-won't-they tensions, the House managed to pass its GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act on Thursday by a razor-thin margin. The vote was 217-213.

Democrats who lost the battle are still convinced they may win the political war. As the Republicans reached a majority for the bill, Democrats on the House floor began chanting, "Na, na, na, na ... hey, hey, hey ... goodbye." They say Republicans could lose their seats for supporting a bill that could cause so much disruption in voters' health care.

Updated 5 pm April 3, 2017 to include the proposed Upton amendment.

The House may yet pass its bill to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act. But Republicans' options to fulfill their seven-year effort to undo the federal health law are getting narrower by the day.

"As of now, they still don't have the votes," said Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) as he was leaving a meeting of GOP members Tuesday. King has been heavily lobbied by both sides.

As House Republicans try to find common cause on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, they may be ready to let states make the ultimate decision about whether to keep a key provision in the federal health law that conservatives believe is raising insurance costs.

Conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus and members of a more moderate group of House Republicans, the Tuesday Group, are working on changes to the GOP health overhaul bill that was pulled unceremoniously by party leaders last month when they couldn't get enough votes to pass it.

Your federal income taxes are due April 18 this year, and — for perhaps several million people — a fine for failing to get health insurance is due that day, too.

Despite a lengthy debate, Congress has not yet acted on a bill to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act. That means the law and almost all of its regulations remain in force, at least for now.