The Senate has confirmed that the new Health Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is Alex Azar.
The department has gone almost 4 months without someone in charge after Tom Price resined in September. Price took several trips on private jets, which cost taxpayers over $1 million.
Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, was confirmed with a vote of 55-43, with six of those votes being Democrats.
However, not all Republicans voted for him. Senator Rand Paul was the only Republican to vote against Azar.
Democrats have attacked Azar over drug prices — saying the cost of several drugs more than doubled during his time at Eli Lilly — and expressed concern that he would continue what they view as the Trump administration’s attempts to sabotage ObamaCare.
Meanwhile, Republicans cast Azar’s nearly 10 year tenure at Eli Lilly, where he served as president of Lilly USA from 2012 to 2017 years, as an asset because he already knows the ins and outs of such a complex industry.
Azar will take the helm of the massive department at a critical juncture for ObamaCare. It’s unlikely congressional Republicans will return to the difficult task of repealing and replacing President Obama’s signature health-care law, leaving the White House to seek changes on its own through administrative action.
Azar knows the regulatory process well. Under former President George W. Bush, he served HHS as general counsel from 2001 to 2005. He then became deputy secretary for two years under Secretary Mike Leavitt, who asked Azar to oversee the department’s regulatory process.
“He understands the process and he knows the levers and how you make it work and where the potential roadblocks are,” Leavitt continued, “I think he would be of particular value given the fact that … so far a repeal bill has not occurred and they’re going to need to make their imprint on existing laws through replacing the ideology underpinning it.”
Senator Orrin Hatch added, “Mr. Azar spent several years as a senior official at HHS, holding key positions overseeing Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage. He also led HHS’s responses to the anthrax attacks shortly after 9/11, the SARS and monkeypox crises, Hurricane Katrina, and many others.”
“Clearly, Mr. Azar has seen both the good and bad at HHS and knows how to manage them. I don’t think there is anyone here, even on the other side of the aisle, who would contest that,” he said.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com