- President Donald Trump has named former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar the nominee for next HHS secretary.
- Azar served as deputy secretary for HHS from 2005 to 2007 under President George W. Bush. After that, he joined Eli Lilly & Company as head of corporate affairs and communications, eventually rising to serve as president of Lilly USA from 2012 until January 2017.
- Former HHS Secretary Tom Price resigned at the end of September after criticism for excessive travel spending and multiple private flights for him and his staff.
Correction: Alex Azar previously served as president of Lilly USA, LLC, the largest affiliate of Eli Lilly & Co, not as president of the entire company, as a prior version of this article stated.
If confirmed, Azar will have to start off juggling multiple issues, including CMS changes to value-based payment models, the administration’s actions to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period and Trump’s recent decision to halt cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers in the ACA exchanges.
Azar was considered a front runner for the post, particularly after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said publicly they were happy in their current roles.
Azar’s confirmation hearing should signal how an administration with a pharmaceutical background plans on managing drug prices, which has been top of mind lately. Trump made frequent campaign promises to reduce drug costs, but has so far not taken much action.
Happy to announce, I am nominating Alex Azar to be the next HHS Secretary. He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2017