Trump Picks Alex Azar for HHS Secretary

14 November, 2017, 01:54 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

On Nov. 13, President Trump nominated Alex Azar as secretary of Health and Human Services, a role that was vacated after Tom Price resigned in late September after it was reported that he spent $1 million of taxpayers' dollars on private air travel while on the job.

Azar worked at Eli Lilly for a decade, including five years as president of its U.S.unt. He said Azar, whose own Twitter feed is private, would be "a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices". Trump tweeted in a morning announcement.

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"He's precise, highly motivated, he has high standards for performance for himself and for other people", said Mike Leavitt, who was HHS secretary when Azar was deputy.

The nomination of Azar is unusual because Health and Human Services secretaries have come from the ranks of elected officials such as governors, leaders in academia and medicine, or top executive branch managers - not industries regulated by the department.

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Azar's Senate confirmation could be hard, with the chamber's 48 Democrats unlikely to approve a candidate who supports dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

President Donald Trump may occasionally erupt with passionate criticism for biopharma companies and the execs who run them, but once again he's going with an industry insider for a top government post. Trump and Congressional Republicans have called to repeal the health law, and the administration has taken steps to destabilize it, such as cutting funding for some programs and refusing to pay subsidies to health insurers. His earlier stint was general counsel and deputy secretary at the department in the George W Bush administration.

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The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), the largest skilled nursing provider in the nation, is also seeking opportunities to work with the potential new Secretary. Early enrollment in Obamacare plans earlier this month was also up considerably compared to past year. A lawyer by training, Azar previously clerked for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

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