President Donald Trump has picked the man he wants to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
The president tweeted Monday that Alex Azar is his nominee to replace former HHS Secretary Tom Price who resigned amid questions about his travel at taxpayer expense.
Happy to announce, I am nominating Alex Azar to be the next HHS Secretary. He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2017
The 50-year-old Azar is an attorney by training, but spent the past decade working as a pharmaceutical executive with industry giant Eli Lilly.
In January, Azar broke from the company to start his own consulting firm and is seen as an expert on health care regulation.
He also has experience at HHS, working as the department’s general counsel in the early 2000’s before serving as a deputy secretary for two years.
In true Trump fashion, the nomination breaks with the norm. Usually presidents pick cabinet secretaries from the ranks of elected officials like members of Congress or governors, not leaders of industries that are regulated by the department they’re tasked to lead.
Much is at stake. The health secretary has much influence over the provisions in Obamacare and the shaping of health policy generally, including abortion policy.
His confirmation process will reopen the wound on Capitol Hill of failed efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, something Democrats will capitalize on.