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Black Lives Matter protesters walk from Concord, Massachusetts, on June 14. Photo: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

22 states and Washington, D.C., are suhing the Department of Health and Human Services over a rule finalized in June that would make it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny transgender people health coverage.

The big picture: The states and D.C. argue that patients won't seek medical care if they are afraid of discrimination. Many Americans are already avoiding doctors' visits during the coronavirus pandemic for financial reasons or fears of catching the virus, the New York Times reports.

Catch up quick: The agency's rollback rescinds an Obama-era 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 language that protected those who terminated a pregnancy from sex discrimination.
  • Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign launched separate lawsuits against the rule in June.

What they're saying: The lawsuit argues that delaying care for trans people could result in higher medical costs later — some of which would fall on the states themselves in the form of "higher government-funded health care costs and increased costs of care for uninsured patients by public hospitals."

  • The lawsuit also argues that the rollback will harm women and those seeking reproductive health care, as it rescinds language under the Affordable Care Act that said sex discrimination includes pregnancy-related conditions.

The other side: "The gender identity and termination of pregnancy provisions of the 2016 rule were held unlawful and unenforceable by a federal court in December 2016 and a court vacated that language in October 2019," HHS Civil Rights Chief Roger Severino said in a statement to Axios.

  • HHS did not comment on how the new rule could affect LGBTQ people seeking health care as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

Meanwhile: Advocates say that a proposed Housing and Urban Development rule, obtained by Vox last week, would harm trans and cisgender women seeking housing in federally funded homeless shelters.

  • The proposed rule would allow those shelters to "judge a person’s physical characteristics, such as height and facial hair, in determining whether they belong in a women’s or men’s shelter," Vox reports.

Go deeper: HHS rolls back Obama-era transgender health care protections

Go deeper

Oct 26, 2020 - Health

Intermountain, Sanford hospital systems plan to merge

Intermountain and Sanford control 70 hospitals across the West and Midwest. Photo: Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Healthcare and Sanford Health have agreed to merge, creating a system of 70 hospitals, hundreds of physician practices, and two health insurance companies across the West and Midwest, pending state and federal regulatory reviews.

Why it matters: A combined Intermountain-Sanford system would generate $15 billion of annual revenue, making it bigger than BlackRock or Uber, and would highlight how hospital systems are still pushing to consolidate despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.

Beauty giant Coty Cosmetics looking to sell its own branded products

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi. Photo: Axios on HBO

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi tells Axios the beauty giant will “probably” introduce Coty-branded products one day.

Why it matters: Coty produces some of the world’s most popular fragrances, skin care products and color cosmetics on behalf of other well-known brands, but has shied away from producing its own branded products.