Senate Confirms Alex Azar to Serve as HHS Secretary

26 January, 2018, 02:36 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Alex Azar will take over the Department of Health and Human Services at a time when rising drug prices are a huge political issue

The Senate voted 55-43 to confirm the nomination of Azar, the former head of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly's US operations, to serve in the role vacated by Tom Price, M.D.

Earlier this week, the Senate advanced the nomination of Azar with a 54-43 vote that mostly followed party lines.

Republicans argued his combination of government and private sector experience made him uniquely qualified to replace Trump's first HHS secretary - Tom Price - who resigned in September after racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel bills for chartered flights.

Azar's position on reproductive health issues is relevant amid actions recently taken by HHS and the Trump Administration that critics say limit women's access to contraception options and abortion.

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Azar, 50, had previously served as general counsel and then as deputy secretary of the HHS in the George W. Bush administration.

Azar attended Parkside High School in Wicomico County and his family also runs the Azar Eye Institute in Salisbury.

Many Democrats opposed the nomination due to Azar's ties to the pharmaceutical industry. "Mr. Azar went through the revolving door from drug companies to the federal government".

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., praised Azar as intelligent and competent, noting he will be a "solid" leader for HHS.

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As HHS secretary, Azar will oversee Medicaid, Medicare, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency that regulates prescription drugs. The Republican tax overhaul that Trump signed into law previous year repeals an Obamacare mandate that individuals have health insurance and the recent deal to reopen the government included some delays of Obamacare-related taxes and fees.

One Republican - Kentucky Sen. "I don't have confidence Mr. Azar will do that".

On the Senate floor today, several Democrats, including Ron Wyden, D-Ore., ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said they would vote against his nomination.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called Azar "one of the best public servants that I've seen in the whole time that I've been here".

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"This is the most important job I will have in a lifetime, and my commitment is to the American people". Rand Paul - voted against Azar because of his lack of support for allowing prescription drugs to be imported from other countries where they often sell for much cheaper.

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