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 PriceIsakson talks up bipartisanship in Senate farewell speech Hundreds apply to fill Isakson's Senate seat in Georgia Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Warren faces tough choices on 'Medicare for All' funding | Dems demand answers on Tom Price's charter flights | Medicaid expansion nears 2020 ballot in Oklahoma 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 AlexanderWays and Means Committee announces rival surprise medical billing fix Impeachment surprise: Bills Congress could actually pass in 2020 Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments 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 SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 The Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left 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. “