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Trump nominates former pharma exec Alex Azar as health secretary

14 November 2017

"LeadingAge looks forward to ongoing collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services - including a new secretary - as we work, on behalf of our 6000+ members and partners, to ensure the overall health and wellbeing of older adults across the country", she said in an emailed statement to Home Health Care News.

President Donald Trump on Monday nominated former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a vacancy left by ousted chief Tom Price.

Azar II, served as a deputy at the department under former President George W. Bush.

Azar worked for Eli Lilly from 2007 to 2017, serving as president of the company's USA division from 2011 to January of this year.

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Mr. Trump made his announcement in a Twitter post while traveling in Asia. He has been critical of the Affordable Care Act and has supported converting Medicaid into block grants.

But committee chairman Sen.

Insurers and for-profit hospitals also reacted positively, while the Public Citizen advocacy group likened Azar's nomination to a "coup d'etat" by drug companies.

Trump has been a sharp critic of the industry. President Trump said after his election and before his inauguration that he wants the government to work to lower drug prices and that he wants the Medicare program to use its buying power to negotiate better prices. Prices are "out of control" and "have gone through the roof", Trump said.

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Professionally, Azar has another set of skills that may be valuable to the president. The council represents large health care companies. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was a former Goldman Sachs executive and hedge fund manager.

Admirers say Azar's drug industry experience should be considered an asset, not a liability.

Azar's nomination, which must be confirmed by the Senate, comes a month and a half after Secretary Tom Price resigned amid a scandal over his use of private jets to conduct government business.

As secretary, Azar would have broad authority over many aspects of the program.

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Trump nominates former pharma exec Alex Azar as health secretary