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President Trump picks Alex Azar For Health Secretary

President Trump nominated on Monday Alex Azar, a former executive of the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, to lead the Department of Human Health Services.

Photo: Associated Press

Photo: Associated Press

Trump announced his pick of Alex Azar on Twitter while traveling in Asia. If confirmed, Azar would replace Tom Price, who resigned in September after it was revealed that he took private jets to travel for official business at the cost of thousands of dollars more than commercial travel.

Azar’s new role will be in direct conflict with his previous one, as he will now be responsible for regulating the pharmaceutical industry. His nomination has drawn criticism for his ties to drug companies that may affect his responsibility of lowering the cost of prescription medications, The New York Times reported. The nominee also holds unfavorable views of the Affordable Care Act, a plan he seems intent on undermining.

Even so, Dan Mendelson, the president of the D.C. consulting firm Avalere Health Dan Mendelson, told The Washington Post that Azar is “well accepted by Democratic policy people by having good policy wonk credentials.” His supporters believe that his knowledge of the ins and outs of drug companies will prove beneficial in his quest to lower prescription costs, despite an increase in some drug prices during his time at Lilly.

In his tweet, Trump said Azar “will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!”

If confirmed, Azar would lead The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), among many others.

Although democrats are skeptical of Azar for his staunchly conservative background, many still believe he is a better choice than Price, The Washington Post reported.

In a tweet, Senator Patty Murray (D.-Wa.) said that Azar should strengthen health care for everyone, especially for women. “[Azar] must make clear he’ll stand up to President Trump,” Murray said, “and oppose this Administration’s ongoing and unprecedented attacks on women’s constitutionally protected healthcare rights.”

Others are less critical. “Even with his drug background, it’s hard to say anything negative,” John C. Rother, the executive director of the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, told The New York Times. “We sincerely hope that he will follow through on the president’s commitment to achieving lower drug prices.”