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14 November 2017, 12:47 | Darnell Patrick
Trump Chooses Alex Azar for Health and Human Services Secretary
President Donald Trump announced his decision on Twitter Monday morning to nominate Alex Azar as U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary.
Azar was president of Lilly USA, the largest affiliate of Eli Lilly & Co., until January.
It's unclear what thoughts, if any, Azar has on tobacco. He's seen as an expert on government health care regulation.
Trump has been a sharp critic of the industry.
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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Trump has a track record of making industry-friendly nominations, such as tapping former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and wealthy investor Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce.
Azar has served on the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a drug industry lobby, for several years, and his nomination would raise questions about the administration's seriousness about lowering drug prices.
Trump has gone after drug companies in the past, as he did in October, on this very issue. Ron Wyden of OR, senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, which would send Azar's nomination to the full Senate. "I am. interested in how, given Mr. Azar's professional background, he believes he can fairly execute any significant effort to lower drug prices for patients", she said in a statement. In meetings with industry executives, however, Trump has focused on speeding up drug approvals, a cost-reducing tactic they would back.
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.
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