GOP Senator promises prompt confirmation hearing for Trump HHS Secretary pick Alex Azar

Industry trade groups like the American Hospital Association and HIMSS are encouraged by his background in innovation and health IT.
By Tom Sullivan
12:16 PM
Alex Azar HHS

Former Eli Lilly exec Alex Azar previously served as HHS deputy secretary under President George W. Bush. Credit: YouTube

Republicans and Democrats took opposing stances to President Donald Trump officially appointing former Eli Lilly executive Alex Azar as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Healthcare industry associations the American Hospital Association and HIMSS, meanwhile, highlighted Azar’s experience in healthcare and IT, working with both HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, as qualifying him for the position.

The U.S. Senate still has to hold a confirmation hearing to formalize Azar as Secretary.

“As a former Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services and private sector executive, Alex Azar has the qualifications and experience to get results,” said Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, who chairs the Senate health committee. “The Senate health committee will promptly schedule a hearing on his nomination.”

New York Democrat and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer took to Twitter and wrote “it’s time to turn over a new leaf at HHS. The next Secretary must demonstrate a commitment to lowering premiums, and not sabotaging the Affordable Care Act and our healthcare system with reckless actions that hurt families.”

The AHA and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society welcomed Azar’s nomination.

“We’re encouraged by the fact that Mr. Azar has experience creating the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, he was there at the inception of ONC,” said Tom Leary, vice president for government relations at HIMSS. “The fact he has worked both inside and outside of government means he’s kept abreast of innovation and knows the need for information and technology to support care advancement.” 

AHA CEO Rick Pollack said he is confident that Azar’s experience in business, healthcare and medicine makes him a good pick.

“The expertise garnered from his career in the private sector and prior public service at HHS as Deputy Secretary will prove to be particularly valuable in addressing the serious challenges facing our nation's healthcare system today,” Pollack said. 

Marilyn Tavenner, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, also gave Azar a warm welcome.

“Congratulations to Alex Azar on his nomination to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. He has the experience and expertise to combine the best from the private sector with the best of our public programs to make healthcare work for every American. We look forward to working with him upon his confirmation to reduce healthcare costs, increase access, and strengthen essential programs that millions of Americans rely on for their coverage and care.”

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