Former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Alex Azar was nominated by President Donald Trump Monday to lead the department as secretary, a post left vacant by the departure of Tom Price in September. Trump said in a tweet Monday.
"'The drug companies, frankly, are getting away with murder, and we want to bring our prices down to what other countries are paying, or at least close and let the other countries pay more", the president told reporters gathered in the Cabinet Room, ' Trump said then.
If confirmed, Azar will take over the administration's management of the Affordable Care Act. That matches up with what Republicans have pushed for, such as in a seemingly stalled bipartisan bill to fund insurer subsidies that help lower-income people with health costs.
"I'm not one to say many good things about Obamacare, but one of the nice things in it is it does give a tremendous amount authority to the secretary", Azar said during an interview with Bloomberg TV in June. In Maine, residents voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. "During Azar's tenure as president and vice president, Eli Lilly raised the price of Humalog by 345 percent from $2,657.88 per year to $9,172.80 per year".
In October Trump also signed an executive order that would weaken Obamacare by making it easier for Americans to buy bare-bones health insurance plans. "Even for D.C.'s ever-spinning revolving door, Alex Azar is a pretty blatant case", The Daily Beast's Lachlan Markay noted, highlighting the fact that Azar previously served as deputy HHS secretary under George W. Bush before joining the pharma giant Eli Lilly in 2007 as senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications.
The Azar nomination is unusual because HHS secretaries have tended to come from the ranks of elected officials such as governors - not industries regulated by the department.