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A Pride flag flies over the Mass. State House in Boston. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule on Friday to reverse protections for transgender people established under the Affordable Care Act.

Why it matters: The action could make it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny transgender people health coverage amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

  • HHS did not respond to a request for comment on how the new rule could affect transgender and LGBTQ people seeking health care as COVID-19 persists.

Catch up quick: The rollback rescinds an Obama administration rule that protected against discrimination on the basis of "gender identity" as well as sex — which allowed transgender people to be protected when seeking health care.

  • The rollback also removes Obama-era language that protected those who terminated a pregnancy from sex discrimination.
  • The Trump administration has tried to narrow the definition of gender as a "biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth" since at least 2018, by considering changes to the federal civil rights law Title IX.

What's next: Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign announced separate lawsuits against the rule on Friday.

What they're saying: “It will eliminate mass confusion that was unleashed by the Obama-era decision to redefine sex to cover a wide array of gender identities, when sex as a biological reality is so important to the practice of medicine," Civil Rights Chief Roger Severino said Friday, of the rollback.

  • “LGBTQ people get sick. LGBTQ people need health care. LGBTQ people should not live in fear that they cannot get the care they need simply because of who they are," HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement on Friday. "It is clear that this administration does not believe that LGBTQ people, or other marginalized communities, deserve equality under the law."

Go deeper: Trump targets LGBTQ protections

Go deeper

Sep 17, 2020 - Health

WHO: Health care workers account for around 14% of coronavirus cases

A health worker collecting coronavirus samples in New Delhi on Sept. 16. Photo: Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Though health workers represent less than 3% of the population in many countries, they account for around 14% coronavirus cases reported to the World Health Organization, the organization announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The WHO called on governments and health care leaders to address threats facing the health and safety of these workers, adding that the pandemic has highlighted how protecting them is needed to ensure a functioning health care system.

21 mins ago - Health

FDA advisory panel endorses Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Cezary Kowalski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.

Dave Lawler, author of World
22 mins ago - World

Schiff: "Definitive" Khashoggi report sends clear message to Saudis

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The report released Friday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was short on evidence or new information, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells Axios that the “definitive” statement assigning responsibility to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) speaks volumes.

What he’s saying: Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says that while some intelligence couldn’t be published because of the need to protect sources and methods, “we rarely see something published that is this definitive and I think that's an important accomplishment for the administration.”