Senate Finance Committee advances Alex Azar nomination for HHS

Now Azar gets a vote by the full Senate to put him atop the agency, which has not had a chief since Tom Price resigned in scandal in September.
By Bill Siwicki
05:50 PM
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HHS nominee Alex Azar at the Senate Finance Committee meeting on Jan. 9. Credit: C-span

The Senate Finance Committee voted 15-12 to advance the nomination of Alex Azar to head the Department of Health and Human Services. The vote was mostly along party lines; Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware voted for Azar.

Now Azar gets a vote by the full Senate to put him atop HHS, which has not had a chief since Tom Price resigned in September amid criticism about his use of taxpayer dollars for private jets.

[Also: HHS nominee Alex Azar outlines priorities: lower drug prices, improve Medicare outcomes]

Azar previously was a pharmaceutical executive and an HHS official in President George W. Bush’s administration. He received praise during the confirmation process for his expertise on healthcare policy and his knowledge of HHS. Democrats, however, worried about his ties to the pharmaceutical industry and his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

“By any objective account, Mr. Azar is very well qualified for this important position,” said Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

The vote by the full Senate has not been scheduled, though it is expected this month.

If he is confirmed, Azar is lead the Trump Administration’s efforts to scale back the ACA through regulation since efforts to repeal it in Congress have stalled. Azar also said he would take on rising drug prices.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com