November 14, 2017

11-14-2017 Trump nominates a new health and human services secretary nuggets…(Vox)

  • President Trump has announced Alex Azar as his new pick to lead the US Department of Health and Human Services, two months after former Secretary Tom Price resigned over a travel spending scandal. [Vox / Dylan Scott
  • Azar served in HHS under George W. Bush’s presidency, but more recently he’s been working as a top pharmaceutical executive at Eli Lilly & Co., one of the world’s largest drug companies. [Bloomberg / Anna Edney
  • As Trump announced Azar’s nomination in a tweet this afternoon, he promised that Azar (a former drug executive) would work to lower drug prices. [Donald Trump via Twitter
  • Lowering drug prices has long been one of Trump’s promises on the campaign trail and in the White House, but it hasn’t happened yet. Despite promising his administration would negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, it hasn’t, and an executive order the administration has been promising to lower costs is widely expected to be pretty industry-friendly. [Politico / Sarah Karlin-Smith
  • Beyond drug pricing, Azar will likely continue the anti-Obamacare stance of his predecessor. He’s opposed to the program and is in favor of turning Medicaid into a block-grant program (though Azar can’t do either of these things without a vote from Congress). [Washington Post / Julie Eilperin and Amy Goldstein
  • Azar still has to go through Senate confirmation hearings, with Democrats likely to focus on his ties to the drug industry. [ABC News / Meridith McGraw
  • If confirmed, Azar would take over a department that’s in turmoil over the travel cost scandal that ousted Price. An inspector general probe over Price’s exorbitant spending on private jets could implicate other people in the office who approved the travel. [Politico / Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan]

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