Alex Azar confirmed by Senate as new head of Health and Human Services

The Washington Post: The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Alex Azar, a former drug industry executive with pristine conservative credentials, as the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The 55 to 43 vote for Azar ushers in his return to the government’s largest domestic agency, where he held senior roles during the tenure of the last Republican president. He will become the Trump administration’s second HHS leader in 11 months; his predecessor, Tom Price, resigned in the fall amid an investigation of his use of expensive private planes for official business. Azar, 50, will take over as policies in the sprawling department, with its budget of more than $1.1 trillion, are tilting to the right. A new civil rights division has just been created to protect health-care workers who refuse to provide contraception and other services inconsistent with their moral or religious beliefs. For the first time, new rules allow states to impose work requirements as part of their Medicaid programs. Other priorities Azar will oversee include trying to control rampant opioid addiction that is ravaging many U.S. communities. He will be under pressure to find ways to constrain drug prices — a realm in which suspicions of him run high given his years as a top executive of Eli Lilly.

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