Trump Announces Appointment of New HHS Secretary
President Donald Trump this week announced that Alex Azar will be appointed as the next Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary. Azar spent nearly a decade at pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, where he most recently served as president of U.S. operations before leaving earlier this year.
Prior to his time at Eli Lilly, Azar served as the HHS General Counsel from 2001 to 2005 and the Deputy Secretary from 2005 to 2007 under the George W. Bush Administration. Notably, as HHS General Counsel, Azar assisted then-Secretary Tommy Thompson in declaring the first public health service emergency after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Azar is generally regarded as a detail-oriented bureaucrat who has a deep understanding of the in-and-outs of the administrative and regulatory systems.
Azar must receive 51 votes to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Reports suggest the confirmation process has the potential to be contentious as lawmakers are likely to scrutinize Azar’s commitment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as his record in the pharmaceutical industry. Committee hearings and a confirmation vote on Azar are expected in the coming weeks.