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Trump nominates former pharma exec Alex Azar as health secretary

Trump nominates former pharma exec Alex Azar as health secretary”

Alex Azar II has been nominated to serve as the next secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS).

"Happy to announce, I am nominating Alex Azar to be the next HHS Secretary".

If confirmed, Azar would be tasked with attempting to roll back drug prices and overseeing Medicare and Medicaid programs, and implementing the controversial Affordable Care Act- legislation that Trump has promised to repeal while on the campaign trail but has been unsuccessful since he took office after Congress repeatedly failed to pass a series of repeal-and-replace bills.

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.

Azar, who ran Indianapolis-based Lilly's US operations until earlier this year, has been an advocate for more state flexibility under Obamacare.

Tom Price resigned as HHS secretary in September after about seven months in the post, after facing sharp criticism for his use of taxpayer-funded private travel.

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.

If approved, Azar will be deeply involved in regulating the industry he has worked for over the last decade.

While Trump insisted in a tweet on Monday that Azar "will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices", many argued that the president's choice of an industry insider will only be a further boost for the bottom lines of drug companies-and a disaster for public health.

Azar worked at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly for ten years until leaving this past January.

Azar, 50, served as deputy secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services from 2005 to 2007, under George W. Bush.



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