President Donald Trump says he will nominate a former clerk for pro-life Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as his next HHS secretary.
In a tweet announced on Twitter today, president Trump said he will nominate Alex Azar, a former top executive at Eli Lilly and Company, as the new Health and Human Services secretary. Azar would replace Tom Price, the pro-life former congressman who left his post in September.
“Happy to announce, I am nominating Alex Azar to be the next HHS Secretary,” Trump tweeted. “He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!”
According to private contacts LifeNews.com has had with leading pro-life advocates, Azar is reportedly someone the pro-life movement would appreciate. He previously served under former President George W. Bush as deputy secretary for the health and human services department so he is significantly familiar with the agency and pro-life issues that are important there.
As the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, Azar would oversee key pro-life issues such as conscience protections for pro-life medical professionals, the handling of taxpayer funding for abstinence education, and overseeing the Obamacare program that includes taxpayer financing of abortions.
Until January he also spent nearly a decade at Eli Lilly affiliate Lilly USA, where he was president for five years and worked on international and federal government affairs and public policy. He also was on the board of directors at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobbying group.
As secretary, Azar may be called upon to alter certain parts of Obamacare. Under Price, open enrollment became shorter and the government spent less. Still, sign-ups so far are outpacing those under the Obama years. Azar has called Obamacare a “fundamentally broken system.”
“It’s certainly circling the drain,” Azar said in response to a question on Fox Business in May about whether Obamacare was dead. “Obamacare plans are following the laws of economics. If you’re running an insurance company you’ve got to be able to make money. To make money running an insurance company you have to be able to predict risk.”
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Azar said one way the federal government could help stabilize Obamacare would be to create a reinsurance fund. The program would allow federal dollars to go toward paying for medical claims of more costly enrollees, thereby keeping the premiums for other customers lower.
“I don’t think there is going to be a lot of appetite for doing that either in the Trump administration or up in Congress,” he said.
Azar is a conservative who in the 1990s worked as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and for independent council Kenneth Starr, who investigated Bill Clinton when was president.
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins expressed cautious optimism in comments to LifeNews about Azar’s nomination.
She said: “Students for Life of America is pleased to see that the Trump Administration’s pick to lead Health and Human Services has a career distinguished with connections to intellectuals like Justice Antonin Scalia and Judge J. Michael Luttig, but we will be looking not at his history but at his agenda as head of an organization that controls so much of American healthcare. Abortion is not healthcare, and in Obamacare, we’ve seen Americans coerced into the service of the abortion industry, through mandates and coverage that force people to comply with an anti-life agenda or face the force of law. We hope that day one, Alex Azar begins to restore life-affirming care to our healthcare system, rather than abusing people’s consciences and wallets in service of Planned Parenthood and its allies.”