Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Trump proposes rolling back transgender health protections | ACLU, Planned Parenthood sue over Alabama abortion ban | FDA approves world's most expensive drug at $2.1M | Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing

Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Trump proposes rolling back transgender health protections | ACLU, Planned Parenthood sue over Alabama abortion ban | FDA approves world's most expensive drug at $2.1M | Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing
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Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care.


Programming note: We'll be off Monday for Memorial Day, but will be back after the long weekend.

On this Friday, the Trump administration proposed rolling back transgender health care protections and the FDA approved the world's most expensive drug. On the legal front, a judge has halted Mississippi's abortion law and the lawsuits keep piling up for Alabama's abortion law. And we took a look at whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE's feud with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRomney: Trump asking Ukraine to investigate political rival 'would be troubling in the extreme' Pelosi: Whistleblower complaint 'must be addressed immediately' Democrats must embrace Israel and denounce anti-Semitism in the party MORE (D-Calif.) might put bipartisan drug pricing work in danger.

We'll start with a new proposed rule...


Trump administration proposes rolling back transgender health care protections

A new proposal from the Trump administration would roll back health care protections for transgender people.

The proposed regulation, announced Friday, scraps ObamaCare's definition of "sex discrimination" by removing protections for gender identity.

That ObamaCare provision said patients cannot be turned away because they are transgender, nor can they be denied coverage if they need a service that's related to their transgender status.

The announcement follows a series of moves that bolster efforts by religious conservatives to narrowly define gender and gender protections. Earlier this month, the administration finalized rules making it easier for health workers and institutions to deny treatment to people if it would violate their religious or moral beliefs.

Not just health care: In addition, the Department of Housing and Urban Development this week proposed a rule that would also roll back transgender protections in housing, by allowing federally funded shelters to turn away transgender people for religious reasons. And the military's transgender ban took effect earlier this month.

Will there be legal action: Yes. But the rule was only just proposed, so things will take a while before the fight shifts to the courts. In the meantime, the original law remains in place. Once the proposed rule is published, HHS will take comments, and then write a final rule.

We've got more on the proposal and reaction here.



FDA approves world's most expensive drug at $2.1M

Yes, you read that right. The cost of this new drug is $2.1 million.

The drug, called Zolgensma, treats SMA, a genetic disease that causes debilitating muscle weakness and paralysis, and is a leading cause of infant mortality.

The tradeoff: On the one hand, there's an eye-popping price. On the other hand, the drug could be a major improvement for babies with a potentially fatal genetic disease. And the company argues the cost is actually less than the current cost of chronic treatment.

The context: This new drug is a sign of a mounting challenge for the health care system: how to pay for extremely expensive drugs that provide major benefits for serious diseases.

Read more here.


More on drug prices... How the Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug talks

Could a drug pricing deal happen between Trump and Pelosi despite a deepening divide between them?

Staffers for the White House and Pelosi's office have been in discussions for months about potential legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and sources say the White House has expressed openness to some form of Medicare negotiating drug prices.

Trump on Wednesday cut off infrastructure talks with congressional Democrats until they stop investigating him, an ultimatum that raises new doubts about whether the president and Pelosi can stay on track to finalize a deal on drug pricing.

But in a potentially positive sign for the talks, a White House official said Thursday that discussions with Pelosi's office on drug pricing are likely to move forward.

"We expect those talks to continue at a staff level," the official told The Hill.

Read more here.


ACLU, Planned Parenthood challenge Alabama abortion law as unconstitutional

Alabama's hugely controversial abortion law is getting a legal challenge -- which was precisely the point.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging Alabama's recently passed abortion ban.

"This law is blatantly unconstitutional, and the ACLU will not stand by while politicians emboldened by President Trump's anti-abortion agenda exploit our health and our lives for political gain," said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

Under the ban, which hasn't taken effect, doctors who perform abortions could face felony charges. The goal of the law is to ultimately bring a legal challenge to the Supreme Court, so the conservative majority will strike down Roe v. Wade.

The bill includes an exception if the abortion would protect the life of the mother but does not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

Read more here.


And in another southern state... Judge halts Mississippi's abortion law

A federal judge on Friday blocked a Mississippi law that banned abortions once a fetus's heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Judge Carlton Reeves, an Obama appointee, wrote that the law "threatens immediate harm to women's rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortion services until after 6 weeks."

"This injury outweighs any interest the state might have in banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat," he wrote.

Check back here for more on this late breaking ruling.



PBMs serve as the check against drugmakers' pricing strategies by negotiating for consumers and clients to ensure prescription drugs are affordable. Learn how PBMs advocate for patients and payers at OnYourRxSide.org.


What we're reading

These Republicans campaigned on a bold drug-pricing pledge. Since they won, they've gone silent (Stat News)

Trump campaign views healthcare as a 2020 campaign weapon (Reuters)

The Democratic Party's 'Medicare for All' divide could be the signature 2020 debate (CNN.com)


State by state

Pressure mounts on expiring Medicaid programs for U.S. territories, safety net hospitals (Roll Call)

Oklahoma takes on drugmakers J&J, Teva in landmark opioid trial (Reuters)