5 things to know about Alex Azar, Trump's pick for HHS secretary

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Monday he selected Alex Azar to fill the post of HHS secretary, left open by Tom Price, MD, who resigned Sept. 29 following an investigation into his extensive use of taxpayer-funded private jets.

Mr. Azar "will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices," according to President Trump. Here are are five things to know about the latest nominee to the Trump cabinet. 

1. Mr. Azar is a former pharmaceutical executive. He worked at Eli Lilly for 10 years, spending the latter half of his tenure as president of the company's U.S. division, according to The New York Times, where he oversaw men's health, women's health, neuroscience, immunology, cardiology and the Alzheimer's sales teams. He left Eli Lilly in 2016.

2. Despite his background in pharmaceuticals, not much is known about Mr. Azar's views on drug prices, NPR reports. 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. However, Democrats are skeptical he may not be able to lead federal initiatives to reduce drug prices and remain impartial, The New York Times reports. 

3. Mr. Azar has a conservative political history. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1991, Mr. Azar clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and later went on to work for Kenneth Star during the Clinton Whitewater investigation. Mr. Azar was "active" in the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign, he wrote in a Yale alumni student profile, and was tapped to serve as general counsel of HHS under Secretary Tommy Thompson during President George W. Bush's first term, which was his first healthcare-focused professional role. He stayed on for a second term, serving as deputy secretary of HHS under Secretary Mike Leavitt. 

4. Mr. Azar is a "detail-oriented bureaucrat" who knows how to "get things done," NPR reports. Former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt told NPR Mr. Azar's deep knowledge of regulatory processes will be key in changing how the ACA is implemented to favor Republican beliefs. 

5. He believes the states should have more authority over their Medicaid programs, according to NPR. This aligns with the views of CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

Mr. Azar must now be vetted by the Senate. 

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