Health Reform WK-EDGE Senate confirms Alex Azar as HHS Secretary
Friday, February 2, 2018

Senate confirms Alex Azar as HHS Secretary

By Kathryn S. Beard, J.D.

By a vote of 55 to 43, the Senate confirmed Alex M. Azar II, a former pharmaceutical executive, as HHS Secretary on January 24, 2017. Acting Secretary Eric Hargan, the designated temporary replacement for former Secretary Tom Price, M.D., will return to his role as Deputy Secretary, for which he was confirmed in October 2017. The vote was mostly split on party lines, though five Democrats joined their GOP colleagues in voting yea and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) voted nay. Sens. McCain (R-Ariz) and Corker (R-Tenn) did not vote.

Following Price’s resignation, President Trump nominated Azar, who previously served as HHS Deputy Secretary and General Counsel, and later led Eli Lilly’s United States division (see Former pharmaceutical executive Azar nominated to fill HHS Secretary role, November 13, 2017). His background led to questions about the cost of prescription drugs, as well as concerns related to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, during his confirmation hearing (see Azar fields questions about drug prices, Medicaid during Senate nom hearing, January 10, 2018).

Price, a former member of the House of Representatives, resigned in September 2017 following a scandal related to his use of private airplanes to conduct HHS business. President Trump initially designated Don J. Wright, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, as Acting HHS Secretary (see There’s a new doctor in town: Price no longer HHS Secretary, Wright filling in, October 2, 2017); subsequently, Hargan was designated for the role (see Newly confirmed HHS Deputy Secretary Hargan takes over from Wright as Acting Secretary, October 11, 2017). Lead-in. TEXT.

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