WASHINGTON— President Trump’s second well being secretary received Senate approval Wednesday.
Alex Azar will tackle the management of a sprawling division shaken by the administration’s tumultuous first 12 months. The 55-43 vote to substantiate the previous drug firm and authorities government as secretary of Well being and Human Providers was largely alongside social gathering traces.
A 50-year-old Ivy League-educated lawyer, Azar says he has 4 important priorities: to assist curb the excessive value of prescribed drugs, make medical insurance extra inexpensive and accessible, proceed bipartisan efforts to focus Medicare funds on high quality, and confront the rising opioid dependancy epidemic.
HHS has been with out a Senate-confirmed secretary since Tom Value resigned final fall amid an outcry over his use of pricey personal constitution plane for official journey.
As well being secretary, Value had been a key supporting participant in Trump’s ill-fated marketing campaign to roll again President Barack Obama’s well being care legislation, an effort that fell far wanting the total “repeal and exchange” Republicans lengthy promised.
Value’s sudden exit created concern concerning the course of HHS, a trillion-dollar division that performs a significant position within the economic system and accounts for about one-fourth of the federal finances. The division is liable for medical insurance applications overlaying greater than 130 million individuals, drug and meals security, illness detection and prevention, and superior medical analysis.
Azar, who had served in senior HHS posts beneath former President George W. Bush, had the assist of a lot of the well being care trade.
Some Democratic well being coverage specialists who labored with him beforehand described him as regular, educated and prepared to listen to each side. Throughout Senate hearings on his nomination, Azar prevented calling the Obama well being legislation “Obamacare,” a well-liked identify for it that some Democrats take into account pejorative. However Azar’s pharmaceutical ties drew opposition from client teams.
Most Democrats and even some Republicans questioned whether or not he can ship on his promise to assist decrease drug prices.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., mentioned Azar “got here up brief” when given an opportunity to persuade Democrats he’d be an impartial voice.
After leaving the Bush administration, Azar spent 10 years as a senior government of drugmaker Eli Lilly, which has been criticized for elevating the worth of insulin and different broadly used drugs.
Earlier than resigning from Indianapolis-based Lilly final 12 months, Azar constructed a monetary portfolio now value between $9.5 million and $20.6 million, in accordance with disclosure data filed with the Workplace of Authorities Ethics.
Azar says he’s his personal man.
“I don’t have pharma’s coverage agenda,” he advised the Senate Well being, Training, Labor and Pensions Committee. “That is an important job I’ll have in a lifetime, and my dedication is to the American individuals.”