The Senate voted 55-43 today to approve president Donald Trump’s nominee for chief of the Dept. of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar.
Azar is succeeding Tom Price, who was forced out after reports from Politico revealed he often used pricey charter jets on the taxpayer’s dime. Senate Republicans have argued that Azar, who previously worked as president of Eli Lilly‘s (NYSE:LLY) U.S. business, will be an asset to HHS given his experience in the pharmaceutical industry.
At his confirmation hearing in early January, Senate Democrats probed Azar about his time at Eli Lilly, criticizing the nominee for drug price hikes that took place while he was working there.
Azar has repeatedly said that drug prices are too high and has largely stuck to traditionally-conservative talking points when asked about how he would aim to bring prices down – encourage competition from generics and prevent companies from gaming the patent system.
Azar worked as general counsel for HHS from 2001 to 2005 under president George W. Bush. He also served as the department’s deputy secretary for two years.
“AdvaMed and the entire medical technology industry congratulate Alex Azar on his confirmation as Secretary of HHS. He has demonstrated his depth of knowledge on a wide range of crucial health care issues facing the country and his willingness to address these challenges head on,” AdvaMed president & CEO Scott Whitaker said in prepared remarks.
“Alex has a well-earned reputation for effective and thoughtful leadership – something I can attest to from our time together at HHS – and his experience in both the private and public sectors will serve him well managing the department’s complex bureaucracy. We look forward to working with Alex in developing innovative solutions to the nation’s health care challenges for the benefit of patients everywhere.”
“America’s Physician Groups applauds the Senate’s confirmation of Alex Azar to serve as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. During his nomination hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Secretary Azar emphasized his commitment to implementing alternative payment models to help improve quality, integration, and care coordination, while reducing costs,” Donald Crane, president & CEO of America’s Physician Groups, said in a statement.
“Our members are experts in these responsible payment models. For decades, they have been committed to finding innovative ways to keep people and communities healthy while embracing payment methodologies—including capitation—that make them accountable for both cost and quality. We look forward to working with Secretary Azar to build on the progress that has been made and look for new opportunities to advance the value movement.”
“MDMA congratulates Mr. Azar on his confirmation as the next Secretary of HHS and we are committed to working with him to expedite patient and provider access to the cures and therapies developed by medical technology innovators. Numerous challenges continue to face our nation’s health care delivery system, and our industry stands ready to work with Mr. Azar and all policy makers to overcome them,” Mark Leahey, president & CEO of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association, added.