HHS nominee Azar to get Senate hearing Nov. 29

HHS nominee Azar to get Senate hearing Nov. 29

The Senate Health Committee will hold a hearing Nov. 29 on the nomination of Alex Azar by President Trump to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

On Monday, Trump tapped Azar to take over the post Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PricePoll: Majority in some GOP districts say Republicans 'more corrupt' than Dems Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts MORE vacated, after details were revealed about how he took repeated trips on government and private jets costing more than $1 million to taxpayers.

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It’s likely Democrats will rigorously question Azar on his time as a pharmaceutical executive and on his plans for ObamaCare — a law he’s criticized, but that HHS is charged with implementing as congressional Republicans failed to repeal it earlier this year.

 

Azar previously served in the department during President George W. Bush’s administration and was HHS general counsel from 2001 to 2005. He then became deputy secretary for the next two years.

Azar spent nearly a decade at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. and, most recently, serving as Lilly USA’s president — a post he left in January.

The Senate Health Committee typically holds hearings on the HHS nominee, but the Senate Finance Committee is the panel that votes to send a confirmation to the full Senate.

Azar met with the Health Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMontana governor raises profile ahead of potential 2020 bid Dems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions Trump administration to explore importing prescription drugs MORE (R-Tenn.) on Thursday, and Alexander said in a statement that he was “impressed with his knowledge and experience. As a former Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services and private sector executive, Alex Azar has the qualifications to get results.”

At least one member of the Senate Health Committee has already slammed the pick, as Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin Bernie Sanders tells Kansas crowd: This 'sure doesn’t look' like a GOP state The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia MORE (I-Vt.) said he “will vigorously oppose” the nominee.

“During Mr. Azar’s tenure at Eli Lilly, this multibillion-dollar corporation dodged taxes while charging Americans outrageously high prices for life-saving prescription drugs,” Sanders said in a statement Monday. “We need an HHS secretary who is willing to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drug prices, not one who has financially benefitted from this greed. “