HHS has a new boss

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a new boss, Alex Azar, after nearly four months without a permanent leader.

The Senate confirmed Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, on Wednesday by a 55-43 vote with six Democrats and Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine) joining all but one Republican to support the nominee.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the lone Republican to vote against his confirmation, after having previously expressed concern over Azar’s reticence to let drugs be imported from overseas.

Azar replaces Tom Price, who resigned in September after Politico detailed repeated trips he took on private and military jets, costing taxpayers more than $1 million.

Democrats attacked Azar over drug prices — saying the cost of several drugs more than doubled during his time at Eli Lilly — and expressed concern that he would continue what they view as the Trump administration’s attempts to sabotage ObamaCare.

Meanwhile, Republicans cast Azar’s nearly 10 year tenure at Eli Lilly, where he served as president of Lilly USA from 2012 to 2017 years, as an asset because he already knows the ins and outs of such a complex industry.

Azar will take the helm of the massive department at a critical juncture for ObamaCare. It’s unlikely congressional Republicans will return to the difficult task of repealing and replacing President Obama’s signature health-care law, leaving the White House to seek changes on its own through administrative action.

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