Top Story: Trump's HHS Pick Alex Azar Fits Right In

Alex Azar

Premier, an alliance of approximately 3,900 USA hospitals and health systems and roughly 150,000 other providers and organizations, said the organization worked with Azar when he served under the Bush administration During his tenure, the agency worked on some of the early value-based payment models, including the Hospital Quality Improvement Demonstration project.

Trump's first health secretary, former US Representative Tom Price, resigned in September amid a public furor over his use of expensive taxpayer-funded private charter jets for government travel. More recently, Azar served in many roles with Eli Lilly and Company, an global pharmaceutical company, where as President of Lilly USA, he oversaw the substantial rise in drug prices while simultaneously serving on the board for the world's largest pharmaceutical lobby, Biotechnology Innovation Organization. Prior to those postings, he was known as an Associate Independent Counsel for Ken Starr, investigating the Whitewater controversy during Bill Clinton's presidency. Trump wrote on Twitter. "If he wants to take meaningful action to lower drug prices, we want to help him".

Azar, though a spokesman, declined to comment.

"We need an HHS secretary who is willing to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drug prices", he said, "not one who has financially benefited from this greed".

Republicans were supportive with Senate health committee head Lamar Alexander of Tennessee describing Azar as a qualified, experienced nominee.

Azar has worked at HHS before: From 2005-07, he was a deputy secretary in the department, and from 2001-05, he was general counsel. Ben Wakana, executive director of advocacy group Patients For Affordable Drugs, told NPR Mr. Azar's intimate knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry could be an asset as the Trump administration works to reduce drug prices.

As head of HHS, Azar would have oversight responsibility for the US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the drug industry including approving new treatments.

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