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President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Trump administration is looking for Congress to implement major changes to how the federal government pays for drugs, following a week of setbacks to its drug pricing agenda.

Yes, but: The major exception to this is the administration's proposal to tie what Medicare pays for some drugs to rates in other countries.

  • President Trump also recently teased a similar executive order that would create a "favored nations clause," under which the U.S. would pay no more for a drug than the lowest price paid by another country.

Driving the news: The White House said late Wednesday night that it'd decided to kill its proposal to eliminate back-end rebates in Medicare Part D and Medicaid.

  • And on Monday, a judge halted the administration's requirement that drug ads on TV must include list prices, one of the only pieces of its agenda enacted so far.

What they're saying: A senior administration official said yesterday that the decision to walk away from the rebate rule was based partially on "lurching bipartisan progress toward something on the Hill," and a desire to not upset a pending deal.

  • But when it comes to Medicare Part D, "what we really want to do is modernize the entire benefit," including increasing payers' exposure to high drug costs.

There were also concerns about premiums rising under the rebate rule. The president "doesn’t want any risk that seniors’ premiums could go up," HHS Secretary Alex Azar told reporters yesterday, per Bloomberg.

  • Azar pointed to Congress' efforts on rebate reform and to give HHS the authority to require prices on TV ads.

One more thing: The administration has also expressed interest in a controversial measure that would limit how much drug prices can rise in Part D — an idea distasteful to both pharma and free-market Republicans.

Go deeper: Axios' Deep Dive on drug prices

Go deeper

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

Updated 19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office.
  2. Health: Coronavirus death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased COVID-19 testing can reduce transmission — Hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Vaccine: What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do — Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to take vaccine in public —WSJ: Pfizer expects to ship half as many COVID vaccines as planned in 2020.
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Clean trucks are paving the road to the electric vehicle era

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The electric vehicle revolution is underway, led by the un-sexiest of plug-in models: the commercial truck.

Why it matters: Growing demand for cleaner trucks means 2021 will be a pivotal year for electric vehicles — just not the kind you might have expected.