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What to Know About New Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar

Who is this new secretary of Health and Human Services?

It’s another year in the revolving door administration known as the Trump presidency, and that means a new Health and Human Services Secretary serving in President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

Former Georgia Congressman Tom Price — the Trump administration’s first HHS Secretary — resigned in disgrace after being caught wasting hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars chartering private jets to take him to his meetings. Now, we are about to embark on a new era under recently the recently confirmed Alex Azar.

So who is this new secretary of Health and Human Services? Here’s everything you need to know:

1. He Worked for the HHS Under George W. Bush in the Early 2000s

According to Scientific American, “Like Trump’s current head of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, Azar is already familiar with the inner workings of the agency he would run. Azar’s bona fides include serving as the number two official at HHS during the George W. Bush administration, and previously serving as its general counsel.”

2. Then He Became a Drug Company Executive

“Alex Azar, former president of the US arm of Eli Lilly & Co., was confirmed Wednesday as the secretary of health and human services,” NPR reports. “In that role, he’ll oversee the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates prescription drugs including those produced by his former employer. He’ll also oversee Medicare and Medicaid, which together spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year on prescription medications.”

3. Drug Prices Skyrocketed While He Was in Charge

“During his nomination hearings before the Senate Finance and Health committees, he drew a barrage of criticism from Democrats, especially liberals, who argued that drug prices rose under his watch at Eli Lilly and said he’s too closely tied to the industry he needs to oversee,” CNN reports. “‘I am alarmed he might not stand up to the pharmaceutical industry,’ said Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. ‘And I am alarmed he may not stand up to President Trump’s agenda driven by sabotage and ideology.'”

4. But Now He Wants to Bring Them Down

“He called reversing the incentive for high list prices — even if that’s not the price most people pay — the most important nut to crack,” reports USA Today. “He also called for increasing competition among drug makers, stopping them from exploiting protections they get from competition under patent laws, and changing federal rules to allow drug companies to be reimbursed based on the effectiveness of their product.”

5. He’s Anti-Obamacare

“Mr. Azar will likely be a central player in the administration’s efforts to roll back the ACA and reshape the US health-care landscape,” says the Wall Street Journal. “He has called for limited federal involvement in health policy and supported changes to Medicaid that would limit future spending on the program.”

6. He Doesn’t Seem to Oppose Birth Control and Sexual Health Care Like His Predecesssor

“Former CMS Administrator Tom Scully, who served with Azar for three years at HHS under the George W. Bush administration, says Azar is far from the hardline crusader his Democratic critics make him out to be,” Talking Points Memo reports. “‘I found him to be an incredibly reasonable guy. He’s fairly conservative, and, I would assume, fairly pro-life, but I think he’s not a zealot in any direction,’ Scully told TPM. ‘He’s a great listener. He’ll be very engaged and open-minded, not really doctrinaire or divisive.'”

7. But He’s Not Ideal for Those Who Believe in Reproductive Freedom and Access

“We congratulate Alex Azar on being confirmed as head of HHS. He takes the reins at a time when major pro-life policy initiatives are being rolled out at this crucial department,” said Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, according to Time Magazine.“Azar’s commitment to HHS’ mission ‘to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans,’ including unborn children and their mothers, is so encouraging. We are confident that he has the experience and enthusiasm to lead the way in implementing President Trump’s pro-life priorities.”

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