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Trump reportedly to appoint Eli Lilly exec Alex Azar as HHS Secretary

Azar previously served as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.

Tom Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Healthcare IT News

Azar previously served as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. Credit: YouTubeAzar previously served as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. Credit: YouTube

Speculation is rising inside the Beltway again that President Donald Trump is moving closer to naming former Eli Lilly executive Alex Azar to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

If appointed, Azar would replace Tom Price, MD, the former Georgia Senator who stepped down from HHS Secretary amid a scandal over his use of private jet flights funded by taxpayer dollars.

[Also: Tom Price resigns as HHS Secretary]

Since Price's late September resignation, CMS Administrator Seema Verma and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, have been reportedly on Trump's list to head HHS.

Now on Thursday Bloomberg reported that Trump is considering Azar, who previously served as HHS deputy secretary under President George W. Bush. Azar also spent nearly a decade at Eli Lilly affiliate Lilly USA, where he was president for five years.

[Also: What hospitals, insurers should take away from Tom Price's resignation]

Naming a long-time pharmaceutical veteran to be HHS Secretary, the top administration official with responsibility for how the Affordable Care Act is managed moving forward, is likely to raise a few eyebrows given Trump's outspoken criticism of drug companies and pricing.

That said, when reports first broke citing unnamed Republicans in October that Trump was considering Azar, conservatives including former HHS Secretary's Mike Leavitt and Tommy Thompson publicly applauded his track record and knowledge of healthcare. Other Republicans indicated an appreciation for Azar's apparent desire to grant states more flexibility regarding how they implement the ACA.

If Trump does, in fact, appoint Azar he would still need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the post to be official. 

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com

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