Alex Azar confirmed by Senate as new head of HHS

Posted January 26, 2018

The Senate has confirmed a former pharmaceutical industry executive as head of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

A top executive with Eli Lilly for almost nine years, Azar will replace Tom Price, who resigned last fall amid a scandal over his use of private planes while leading the department.

Earlier this week, the Senate advanced the nomination of Azar with a 54-43 vote that mostly followed party lines. As HHS secretary, Azar will oversee the agency's implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a program he criticized during his confirmation hearing.

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At hearings before two Senate committees to review his qualifications, Azar presented himself as a problem-solving pragmatist rather than an ideologue.

Many Democrats opposed the nomination due to Azar's ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

According to Talking Points Memo, Azar also told Murray in a written response to her questions regarding a strategic plan released by HHS which stated that life begins at conception, that "The mission of HHS is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, and this includes the unborn". "And I am alarmed that he might not stand up to President Trump's agenda driven by sabotage and ideology". "We look forward to working with Secretary Azar to build on the progress that has been made and look for new opportunities to advance the value movement". He was a deputy secretary of HHS under President George W. Bush.

President Donald Trump's pick to be the next health secretary faced skepticism from senators of both parties Wednesday over his commitment to work for lower drug prices.

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"MDMA congratulates Mr. Azar on his confirmation as the next Secretary of HHS and we are committed to working with him to expedite patient and provider access to the cures and therapies developed by medical technology innovators".

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only Republican to vote against the nomination. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said he continues to have concerns about Azar's views on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid but that he is encouraged by Azar's goal of transforming the healthcare delivery system into one that rewards quality over quantity.

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