President Trump Appoints Health and Human Sevices Secretary Alex Azar


Azar served as general counsel and deputy secretary of the agency under President George W. Bush and helped enact the Medicare Part D drug plan under that administration.

Azar then joined Eli Lilly for nine years, becoming president of Lilly USA in 2012.  Azar also served on the board of directors of the Biotechnology Industry Organization(BIO), a trade group. In January, Azar left Lilly USA and BIO and now runs a consulting firm. Lilly USA is under litigation for price fixing insulin.

When Trump revealed his pick for Health and Human Services on Twitter in November, he called Azar “a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!”

The Department of Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar and took office today, Jan 29. The President campaigned on lowering drug prices, and this appointment would be his first action on the issue.

Azar previously told Senators in November hearing and today at a press conference, the primary focus would be drug cost reduction.

Azar replaces Tom Price, who resigned due to his use of private planes at taxpayer’s expense during his reign as HHS.

Azar drew criticism from Democrats, who argued that drug prices skyrocketed while he was at the helm of Eli Lilly during the Senate Finance and Health committees hearing. Democrat politicians alleged he was too closely tied to the industry that he would be tasked with overseeing. Eli Lilly is alleged to have price fixed insulin 20% above market and is currently under investigation.

During Nov Senate hearings, Azar explained he wanted to halt drug companies from grossly profiteering on the patent system to prevent generic competitors from being available on free market.  Azar said Europe and Japan consumers paid less than their American counterpart, and he wanted to research further to find out why they pay less for their drugs.

Azar also wants to use Medicare’s power to shift how the nation pays for health care, from reimbursing for procedures to paying for outcomes. Finally, he said the nation must “tackle the scourge of the opioid epidemic that is destroying so many individuals, families and communities.”

Patty Murray, Washington, said she was “alarmed” Azar would not stand up to pharmaceutical industry and she thought Azar would “not stand up to Trump’s agenda driven by sabotage and ideology” either.

Murray expressed concern that Azar may not stand up for women and families based on prior statements. Women and families that are pro-life are applauding the Senate appointment this week, as they see him as a man with family values according to conservative news sites such as the Conservative Perspective.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell heralded Azar, “For all Americans he will work to expand access to high-quality, affordable health care options,” McConnell said. “His distinguished record… including prior HHS service as deputy secretary and private-sector work … shows he is the right man for the job.”

The final vote after senate hearing in Nov was 55-43.

Azar will lead the department that oversees the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.   President Donald Trump has vowed to dismantle Obamacare with congressional Republicans. HHS has already taken action that could limit participation in Obamacare exchanges in 2018, including cutting the open enrollment period in half and slashing advertising and funding for it. The Republican tax revamp signed into law late at the end of 2017 repeals Obamacare mandate that individuals must have health insurance.