Alex Azar, former president of the US arm of Eli Lilly & Co., was confirmed Wednesday by the Senate as the next secretary of HHS.
The 55-43 vote was largely along party lines.
Even so, seven members broke from the Democratic caucus Wednesday to vote in favor of the confirmation, giving Azar the majority he needed to succeed former HHS Secretary Tom Price, who resigned last September, amid controversy, after less than eight months on the job.
Also of note, as it relates to value-based care, during a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing, Azar said he was open to the idea of mandatory bundled payment models, signaling a shift from what ex-Secretary Price and current CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) Administrator Seema Verma have said in the past.
"I congratulate Secretary Azar on his appointment and look forward to working with him as we continue our efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare and lower the cost of healthcare for hard-working Americans".
Azar attended Salisbury's Parkside High School, and his father, Dr. Alex Azar, has practiced ophthalmology in Salisbury for more than 30 years. According to a report this week in The Hill, "Backers of Azar tout him as a well-qualified manager, while many Democrats have attacked his time as a pharmaceutical executive at Eli Lilly, pointing to drug price hikes under his watch".
"In Wisconsin and across the country, health care premiums are going up because of the uncertainty and chaos created by the Trump Administration's repeated sabotage of our health care system over the previous year".
"We have to balance a woman's choice of insurance with the conscience of their employers", Azar responded.
Azar has unique qualifications because he has already worked at HHS.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, also pointed to his past comments saying the Affordable Care Act was "circling the drain" and stances on the law's contraceptive mandate in justifying her opposition.
The one Republican to oppose Azar's nomination, Sen. "I don't have confidence Mr. Azar will do that". Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the lone Republican to vote against Mr. Azar's nomination. By contrast, he had received unanimous Senate support when he was nominated to serve as the department's general counsel in 2001, and then as the agency's No. 2 official in 2005.