The Trump administration is giving top consideration to former Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) executive and George W. Bush admin official Alex Azar to operate as head of the Health and Human Services, according to a Politico report.
A White House official said that Trump has signed off on Azar, while other officials commented that he had been shortlisted and warned that the decision wouldn’t be final until a formal announcement had been made, according to the report.
Officials also said that other contenders, including Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services admin Seema Verma and FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, are no longer under consideration, Politicoreported.
Former Eli Lilly exec Azar served as the HHS Dept.’s general counsel and deputy secretary during the Bush administration, operating closely with Eric Hargan who was confirmed as deputy secretary earlier this month, according to the report.
Hargan has served as a replacement for the recently departed Tom Price, who resigned last month amid a flurry of criticism over chartered flights he took on the public dime to the tune of more than $1 million.
Azar joined Eli Lilly in 2007 as senior VP of corporate affairs & communications after leaving the Bush administration. He rose to head US operations in 2012, only leaving the position in January after stepping away from the company, according to Politico.
“He is one of the most competent people I know. He brings terrific experience from both the private and public sector leading large and complicated organizations. He knows HHS and the career staff know and respect him,” former HHS Sec. Tommy Thompson said, according to the report.
Azar has been a harsh critic of Obamacare and supported GOP efforts to repeal and replace the plan, according to Politico.
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that current US Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin is slated for an interview as a candidate to lead the Dept. of Health and Human Services.