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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.

Scoop: Trump tells confidants he plans to pardon Michael Flynn

Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

President Trump has told confidants he plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, two sources with direct knowledge of the discussions tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: Sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said Flynn will be part of a series of pardons that Trump issues between now and when he leaves office.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
4 hours ago - World

Remote work shakes up geopolitics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The global adoption of remote work may leave the rising powers in the East behind.

The big picture: Despite India's and China's economic might, these countries have far fewer remote jobs than the U.S. or Europe. That's affecting the emerging economies' resilience amid the pandemic.