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

Nurses rally nationwide to demand protection amid pandemic

Healthcare workers on their way to work walk past demonstrators taking part in a national day of action in Miami on Wednesday. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Nurses took more than 200 active demonstrations inside and outside U.S. hospital facilities in at least 16 states and the District of Columbia on Wednesday to demand full personal protective equipment and federal government action.

Driving the news: National Nurses United (NNU) members are demanding that the Senate pass the HEROES Act, House Democrats' $3 trillion pandemic recovery package, which they said would protect health care workers by ensuring domestic production of PPE through the Defense Production Act.

A quandary for state unemployment agencies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

State agencies charged with paying unemployment benefits to jobless residents have their backs against the wall as they rush to parse President Trump's executive actions on coronavirus aid.

Why it matters: States are being asked to pitch in $100 per unemployed resident, but it’s a heavy lift for cash-strapped states that are still unclear about the details and may not opt-in at all. It leaves the states and jobless residents in a state of limbo.

Updated 43 mins ago - Health

New Zealand reports first local coronavirus cases for 102 days

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after a press conference at Parliament on July 22 in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Auckland is locking down and the rest of New Zealand faces lesser restrictions for 72 hours after a family of four tested positive for COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: It's the first cases not in managed isolation for 102 days, Ardern said at a news briefing.