Trump Announces Next HHS Nominee, Dems Scrutinize His Former Employment

Frederick Owens
November 14, 2017

"Happy to announce, I am nominating Alex Azar to be the next HHS Secretary".

President Donald Trump said Monday that he will nominate former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar as secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

The Yale Law graduate Azar also had served as general counsel of HHS in the administration of President George W. Bush.

Azar is a former pharmaceutical executive and worked for top company Eli Lilly for almost a decade, becoming president of Lilly USA in 2011.

"He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!", Trump exclaimed.

Price resigned in September after reports that he incurred $1 million on costs using government-owned jets for travel.

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Trump has a track record of making industry-friendly nominations, such as tapping former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and wealthy investor Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce.

As HHS secretary, Azar would have to scrupulously avoid conflicts with Lilly's far-reaching interests, from drug approval to Medicare reimbursement.

Azar has served on the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a drug industry lobby, for several years, and his nomination would raise questions about the administration's seriousness about lowering drug prices.

"The Trump administration's track record on health care to date is objectively abysmal", said Sen.

He'll be working with FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, another industry insider now in charge of regulating the business.

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.

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