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Alex Azar Trump's choice for HHS Secretary

A week after a Part B News story predicted it, President Donald Trump has nominated former pharma executive Alex Azar to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.

In our November 6 story, "Trump’s slow first-year start may be calm before the storm for health care industry," Mike Strazzella, head of law firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney's D.C. office, was asked about leadership at HHS, currently headed by acting secretary Eric Hargan:

Strazzella doesn’t think Hargan will remain as secretary. “If this were later in the term, or a second, term, absolutely, but not now,” he says.
The names floated to replace Hargan have included Bobby Jindal, former governor of Louisiana, and Seema Verma, current head of CMS. But the administration seems content with Verma in her current job, and Jindal “was very negative toward Trump early on, and this president believes in loyalty,” says Strazzella.  He thinks Alex Azar is a likely choice; also a former Bush deputy, Azar later served the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company for five years, rising to head of Lilly’s U.S. operations, giving him needed top-man experience, not to mention a high profile in the crucial pharma sector. “He has been around the block and has a lot of respect around the industry and at HHS,” says Strazzella.

Azar's  appointment was announced by the President in a tweet this morning.

Prior to his Lilly career, Azar served as an HHS deputy secretary under George W. Bush. The Washington Post calls him "an establishment figure with a reputation as a conservative thinker and methodical lawyer" who has been highly critical of the Affordable Care Act.

The Department has had two acting secretaries -- Hargan and Don Wright -- since Trump's original secretary, former congressman Tom Price, was compelled to resign in the wake of an expensive air travel scandal. 

Like his predecessor Azar will face the Senatorial confirmation process; the Huffington Post reports "Democrats in Congress are already wary."

Blog Tags: HHS
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