On Wednesday, November 29th, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing to vet Alex Azar, President Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). During the Bush Administration, Azar served as General Counsel and then Deputy Secretary of HHS. Following his time at HHS, Azar went on to work for global pharmaceutical conglomerate Eli Lilly and Co.
During the hearing, Senators from both parties questioned Azar on a myriad of issues including prescription drug prices, the Affordable Care Act, the opioid crisis, and his past pharmaceutical experience and time with HHS.
As part of his opening remarks, Mr. Azar indicated his four priorities include addressing drug pricing; healthcare affordability and availability; pay for value; and aggressively attacking the opioid crisis.
On the health IT front, Azar briefly spoke about the need for greater EHR interoperability and stated that, if confirmed, he would continue to have “HHS to drive towards interoperability and reducing physician burden.” Next on Azar’s road to confirmation will be a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, which has yet to be scheduled.