Trump to nominate 'star' to lead HHS

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Premier, an alliance of approximately 3,900 USA hospitals and health systems and roughly 150,000 other providers and organizations, said the organization worked with Azar when he served under the Bush administration During his tenure, the agency worked on some of the early value-based payment models, including the Hospital Quality Improvement Demonstration project.

If the new HHS head is confirmed, he would take the seat of Tom Price, who had to step down in September in the midst of a scandal regarding his government-funded private charter flights for official and personal business. Azar joined Lilly in 2007 as a senior vice president of global corporate affairs and communications.

Trump, who is in the Philippines on a diplomatic trip, announced his intention to nominate Azar on Twitter by saying he would "be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices". He would also help the Trump administration to dismantle Obamacare and crack down on drug prices.

Azar served as the president of the American division of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly from 2012 until January of this year.

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Azar also drew praise from PhRMA, the largest pharmaceutical industry trade group and America's Health Insurance Plans, the key lobbyist for the insurer industry. Mr. Azar was "active" in the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign, he wrote in a Yale alumni student profile, and was tapped to serve as general counsel of HHS under Secretary Tommy Thompson during President George W. Bush's first term, which was his first healthcare-focused professional role.

As head of HHS, Azar would have oversight responsibility for the US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the drug industry including approving new treatments.

Although the Patients for Affordable Drugs said it was concerned that the former drug company executive may not take action on skyrocketing drug prices, Ben Wakana, executive director, said in a statement that Azar is well-qualified for the position.

Azar's nomination must be approved by the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans.