Alex Azar, J.D., has been nominated
to replace Tom Price, M.D., as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Mr.
Azar testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Committee that he would tackle the rising cost of prescription medications even
though he had been a top executive at a major pharmaceutical company.
Azar said he supports President Trump’s
goal to convert the Medicaid program into a block grant that would allot states
a fixed sum and allow more freedom from federal rules. He also said that drug
prices were one of four central priorities that would guide him as HHS Secretary
if confirmed. The others, he testified, would be making health care more
affordable and available, shifting Medicare further in the direction of
creating incentives for good health outcomes rather than the volume of medical
care, and fighting “the scourge of the opioid epidemic.” He did not address how
he would approach the other three priorities. Azar’s confirmation is considered
highly likely, with no Senate Republicans wavering on his nomination.