In a move critics said betrays President Donald Trump'sexpressed 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).
"Trump tells us Azar will be a "star" who will lower prescription prices".
"There will be a piece of legislation passes this year that is called 'the repeal of Obamacare, ' " Azar said. That matches up with what Republicans have pushed for, such as in a seemingly stalled bipartisan bill to fund insurer subsidies that help lower-income people with health costs. "I don't know what's going to be in the substance of it, but there will be a piece of legislation that says that". "There are still changes that can be made to make it work a little better than it has been".
The firm represents a sophisticated client base of Fortune 100 life sciences, health care services companies, and providers as well as innovative, venture and private equity backed companies in diagnostics, digital health, health information technology and health care services. In Maine, residents voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
In October Trump also signed an executive order that would weaken Obamacare by making it easier for Americans to buy bare-bones health insurance plans.
Trump's first HHS secretary, Tom Price, resigned in September after his extensive use of private and military jets at taxpayer expense was revealed.
If approved, Azar will be deeply involved in regulating the industry he has worked for over the last decade. However he's taken no concrete action yet to do so. Azar also worked in HHS during President George W. Bush's administration, serving as HHS's general counsel from 2001 and 2005 and becoming deputy secretary until 2008.
Azar was president of Lilly USA, the largest affiliate of Eli Lilly & Co., until January. A lawyer by training, Azar previously clerked for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.