Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Senate Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing for HHS Secretary Nominee

Drew Thies

The Senate Finance Committee Tuesday held its first hearing for Alex Azar, President Trump’s pick to be the next head of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Republicans praised Azar’s experience, including his service as deputy secretary of HHS under President George Bush. “I believe his record shows he is more than capable of leading HHS through these next consequential years,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) said at the hearing.

When asked about potential changes to the Medicaid program, Azar said he “find a lot of appeal” in block grant programs but “the devil’s in the details.” He indicated there needs to be specific indication in terms of both dollar amounts and coverage requirements.

Azar, a former president of the drug company Eli Lilly, faced several inquiries about rising drug prices, a problem Azar said his background in the industry would help him address.

In a statement, American Health Care Association president and CEO Mark Parkinson called Azar a “respected and experienced leader.” LeadingAge also endorsed the nominee.

If confirmed, Azar would replace former Secretary Tom Price, who resigned in September amidst controversy over his use of government money to fund travel. Many expect a confirmation vote within the next month.

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