President Donald Trump has selected drug industry executive Alex Azar to replace former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned amid a government jet scandal. Trump said in a tweet Monday.
"Trump tells us Azar will be a "star" who will lower prescription prices".
Azar's Senate confirmation could be hard, with the chamber's 48 Democrats unlikely to approve a candidate who supports dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
"There will be a piece of legislation passes this year that is called 'the repeal of Obamacare, ' " Azar said.
As secretary, Azar would have broad authority over many aspects of the program. He's seen as an expert on government health care regulation. In Maine, residents voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Trump has been highly critical of the industry that Azar comes from, saying that drug companies are "getting away with murder" and threatening to use the federal government's buying power to bring down prices. Early enrollment in Obamacare plans earlier this month was also up considerably compared to past year. Azar must be approved by the Senate. However he's taken no concrete action yet to do so. "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.
Azar was president of Lilly USA, the largest affiliate of Eli Lilly & Co., until January.
The Washington Post reported that the Yale Law school grad clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a Trump favorite, while also working for former special counsel Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
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