Trump nominates Azar, former pharma exec, to lead HHS

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 - Alex Azar
Alex Azar

On Monday morning, President Donald Trump announced the nomination of Alex Azar to lead HHS. A former executive for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, he has long been a frontrunner to replace Tom Price, who stepped down in September after criticism for using expensive chartered flights.

Azar, 50, has experience with HHS, serving as its general counsel and deputy secretary during the administration of President George W. Bush. The Washington Post reported the two HHS secretaries he worked under, Mike Leavitt and Tommy Thompson, would be supporting his nomination.

In a Monday morning tweet, President Trump said his nomination “will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!”

Azar is a staunch critic of the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s certainly circling the drain,” he told Fox Business in May. “Obamacare plans are following the laws of economics. If you’re running an insurance company, you have to be able to make money. To make money, you have to be able to predict risk. The Obamacare system has made it impossible to predict risk.”

Azar also supports transitioning Medicaid from an entitlement program for everyone into a block grant system, which has drawn criticism from the left and some moderate Republicans.