Azar Nominated as Secretary of HHS

AAHomecare welcomes news, hopes Azar will focus on competitive bidding’s ‘flawed regulatory design.’

President Donald Trump has nominated onetime Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services and former president of the U.S. division of pharmaceuticals giant Eli Lilly and Company Alex M. Azar II for his new Secretary of HHS.

Yet to be confirmed by the Senate, Azar would fill the spot left open by the previous HHS Secretary, Tom Price, who resigned from the post after it was revealed he routinely used expensive charter flights for government travel.

The news was welcomed by the HME industry leadership, with Tom Ryan, president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare saying that his organization applauds the nomination of an experienced and accomplished healthcare executive and regulatory lawyer to run HHS.”

“We hope that the new Secretary, if he is confirmed, will immediately turn his focus to the flawed regulatory design of the home medical equipment bidding program,” Ryan said. “This broken program is jeopardizing access to critical medical treatments for thousands of elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries every day. The new Secretary must direct CMS to re-start a revised program when the current contracts expire in 2019.”

Azar, who also served as the General Counsel for HHS prior to becoming Deputy Secretary, would likely continue the Trump administration’s efforts to reform or repeal the Patient Protection/Affordable Care Act, which he has called a “fundamentally broken system.”

“Much of the focus will likely be changing the ideology under which the existing law will be administered,” former Bush administration HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt told the New York Times. “I’m confident that he would like to see the way the law works change.”

On the other side of the nomination, lawmakers critical of Pres. Trump’s choice called Azar’s ability to effectively and impartially run HHS given his long-term work as a pharmaceuticals executive.

“I am also interested in how, given Mr. Azar’s professional background, he believes he can fairly execute any significant effort to lower drug prices for patients,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) told the Times

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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