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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

1 hour ago - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.