5 things to know about Alex Azar, Trump's pick for HHS secretary

Sergio Conner
November 14, 2017

Premier, an alliance of approximately 3,900 US hospitals and health systems and roughly 150,000 other providers and organizations, said the organization worked with Azar when he served under the Bush administration During his tenure, the agency worked on some of the early value-based payment models, including the Hospital Quality Improvement Demonstration project.

Azar's nomination comes after Trump's initial health secretary, former U.S. Representative Tom Price, resigned in September amid criticism over his use of expensive taxpayer-funded private charter jets for government travel instead of cheaper commercial flights. He rose to become president of the company's largest affiliate, Lilly USA, in 2012.

At Eli Lilly, he served as senior vice president for the firm's global communications and government affairs unit.

"This is a slap in the face to millions of Americans who are waiting on (the President) to take action to lower drug prices", Cummings wrote on Twitter. He also pointed to Eli Lilly raising drug prices by double digits while Azar was an executive at the company. However, Democrats are skeptical he may not be able to lead federal initiatives to reduce drug prices and remain impartial, The New York Times reports.

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Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Azar has qualifications and experience to get results and he will quickly schedule a hearing on his nomination.

Azar, 50, had previously served as general counsel and then as deputy secretary of the HHS under President George W. Bush's administration.

Happy to announce, I am nominating Alex Azar to be the next HHS Secretary. His supporters say that Azar's understanding of the complicated dynamics behind pharmaceuticals pricing will give him an advantage in figuring out how to make drugs more affordable.

Patient advocacy organization Public Citizen said Azar has made it clear he is opposed to measures "to restrain prescription companies' profiteering and limit improper marketing" and that he favors weaker safety approval standards.

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