Senate confirms Azar as new HHS secretary

By: January 24th, 2018 Email This Post Print This Post

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a new head honcho.

By a 55-43 vote, the Senate on Wednesday afternoon confirmed Alex Azar, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Tom Price as HHS secretary. Price, of course, resigned last September amid scrutiny over his use of taxpayer-paid private planes.

Azar, a former drug company exec who served in the George W. Bush administration, is the first person with a pharmaceutical industry background to lead HHS.

He will be tasked with guiding the future of the Affordable Care Act and reining in prices charged by drug companies. The latter was a point of contention for the many Democrats who opposed the appointment because while Azar was president of Eli Lilly, that drug manufacturer spiked the price of some prescription drugs.

“He failed to persuade me that he can effectively lead any effort to lower drug prices given his tenure at Eli Lilly, where he worked to raise drug prices on patients,” Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the health committee, said when announcing her opposition to his nomination. “He indicated in our discussions that he would continue the Administration’s harmful plan to create Trumpcare by sabotage.”

Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), the chairman of the Finance Committee, believes Azar’s background as a drug company executive is an asset and told him, “You’re one of the best public servants that I’ve seen in the whole time I’ve been here.”

 

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