In a move critics said betrays President Donald Trump's expressed commitment to lowering drug prices and taking on the power of Big Pharma, Trump on Monday announced that he has chosen former top executive of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly Alex Azar to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
In a tweet posted Monday morning, Trump said he has his new guy.
Azar is a former pharmaceutical executive and worked for top company Eli Lilly for almost a decade, becoming president of Lilly USA in 2011.
Azar is President Donald Trump's choice to replace Tom Price.
If confirmed, Azar will take over the administration's management of the Affordable Care Act.
Azar, 50, served as deputy secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services from 2005 to 2007, under George W. Bush.
The Trump administration followed through on a threat to cut off billions of dollars of subsidy payments to insurers, shortened the Obamacare open enrollment period, slashed advertising for the program by 90 percent and cut funding to groups that help people sign up for health insurance.
Azar, who ran Indianapolis-based Lilly's US operations until earlier this year, has been an advocate for more state flexibility under Obamacare.
"I'm not one to say many good things about Obamacare, but one of the nice things in it is it does give a tremendous amount authority to the secretary", Azar said during an interview with Bloomberg TV in June.
Azar was president of Lilly USA, the largest affiliate of Eli Lilly & Co., until January. He's seen as an expert on government health care regulation.
The Azar nomination is unusual because HHS secretaries have tended to come from the ranks of elected officials such as governors - not industries regulated by the department. A lawyer by training, Azar previously clerked for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
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