Senate Confirms New HHS Secretary Alex Azar
On January 24, 2018, the Senate confirmed Alex Azar as secretary of the U.S. Department of health and Human Services (HHS). Deputy Director, Eric Hargan has been serving as acting Director, following former Secretary Tom Price’s resignation on September 29, 2017.
Azar’s previous experience includes work as a pharmaceutical executive and a twice-confirmed HHS official during the George W. Bush administration. Supporters of Azar have noted his oversight of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (which created Medicare Part D) and Medicare Advantage as evidence of his expertise.
During his Senate confirmation hearing on January 9, 2018, Azar pledged to prioritize lowering drug prices, tackling the Opioid Crisis, and stated his in interest in moving towards value-based purchasing (away from the Fee-for-Service model) and said he favored block grants for the Medicaid program.