Trump Picks Former Eli Lilly Drug Executive as Health Secretary

HE'S THE CURE President Donald Trump has selected drug industry executive Alex Azar to replace former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Here Director of French research laboratory the Pasteur Institute Alice Dautry smiles next to US D

President Donald Trump is nominating former pharmaceutical and government executive Alex Azar to be his second secretary of health and human services.

In a tweet posted Monday morning, Trump said he has his new guy.

Azar served as HHS's No. 2 under Secretary Mike Leavitt, who said he asked Azar to oversee the department's regulatory process.

"He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!", Trump exclaimed.

Azar's Senate confirmation could be hard, with the chamber's 48 Democrats unlikely to approve a candidate who supports dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

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. "I think he would be of particular value given the fact far a repeal bill has not occurred and they're going to need to make their imprint on existing laws through replacing the ideology underpinning it".

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. Early enrollment in Obamacare plans earlier this month was also up considerably compared to previous year.

If approved, Azar will be deeply involved in regulating the industry he has worked for over the last decade.

Tom Price and Donald Trump. However he's taken no concrete action yet to do so.

Azar left Lilly in January, several months after another senior executive was named to succeed then-CEO John Lechleiter. 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.

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