Trump Taps Pharma Executive for Health and Human Services Secretary

After Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was shamed out of his job by a scandal involving over one million dollars worth of travel on private flights, Trump gets a second go-round at selecting the head of a key federal agency.

Health and Human Services has a profound impact on everyone’s life, from making determinations about insurance policy to promoting public health initiatives. An experienced public servant would be ideal for the job, right? Well, Trump picked a pharmaceutical executive instead.

Now, let’s be fair: Alex Azar, the nominee Trump has put forward, is familiar with the agency. He served there from 2005 to 2007 as deputy secretary, nominated by President George W. Bush. But when Azar left the agency, he made a soft landing in the private sector at Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical firm — even rising to president of the U.S. division in 2012. He served in that role until January, right on time for the arrival of the Trump administration — and a new job opportunity.

One particularly important task for Azar would be overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In June, he noted that the HHS secretary had considerable latitude when it came to the landmark health insurance law, as is common with legislation — often, details of implementation are left up to federal agencies.

On the surface, that can be a good thing, as it builds in flexibility and puts fine details in the hands of people with a lot of experience. But it can also allow members of the administration to abuse their power and go against the spirit of bills like the ACA. Azar has stated on multiple occasions that he doesn’t support the ACA.

He has also expressed a preference for leaving more of the regulation of Medicaid to the states, something critics say could be disastrous for people counting on Medicaid services. This is of particular concern given that Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also favors abrogating federal responsibility for this program, stripping it of funding and instituting other reforms that could be devastating. Verma recently indicated an interest in pressing for work requirements, a dehumanizing proposal that reflects a lack of understanding about how and why people use Medicaid.

Trump announced that his pick would be “a star for better healthcare and low drug prices.” Whether that’s truly the case remains to be seen — Trump and the GOP’s attacks on the ACA suggest that access to affordable, quality health care is not a priority for the party. Former pharmaceutical executives certainly know a great deal about drug prices, and Eli Lilly has been sued over its pricing practices in the past.

This appointment also, of course, presented another opportunity for the president to make good on his promise to “drain the swamp,” getting former business interests out of the halls of government and limiting lobbyist activities on the hill. But it would seem that President Trump has changed his mind, opting instead to hand out plum positions in the administration to the very people he claimed were holding America back during the election.

If your senator sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, you can weigh in on whether Azar’s nomination should proceed to the full Senate floor.

Photo credit: longislandwins

35 comments

Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Freya H
Freya H8 months ago

It's not enough to impeach tRump - remember that Bill Clinton was impeached, but survived, so to speak. And it's not enough to get his orange arse out of the Oval Office. We need a way to get rid of him AND Pence.

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I8 months ago

Expedite, Mueller! Time's a wastin'!

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S M
S M8 months ago

lol! By the time Trump finished there will be a walled off part of America for the 1% very wealthy of ‘the swamp’ and the rest of population degenerating to a Third World!

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Peggy B
Peggy B8 months ago

Noted

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Winn A
Winn A8 months ago

tRUMPie should be impeached today.

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Magdalen B
Magdalen B8 months ago

The swamp is getting swampier and you're "ass deep in alligators". ( Lauren K Hamilton) Spam flagged.

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Ellie M
Ellie M8 months ago

ty

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Sandra Vito
Sandra Vito8 months ago

Thanks

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Anne M
Anne M8 months ago

Sounds like a real winner...

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