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FEDERAL | Azar Nominated to Lead HHS

The President announced his appointment of Alex Azar, former Eli Lilly executive, as Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) following weeks of chatter about potential nominations for the highly important role. Azar also served as the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Bush administration. If confirmed by the Senate, Azar will play an instrumental role in the future of the Affordable Care Act, which places significant regulatory powers with HHS.

The appointment is seen as an indication of Vice President Pence's continued influence in the White House, as Azar spent almost a decade leading the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical company. Pence previously demonstrated his influence through the appointment and confirmation of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and Surgeon General Jerome Adams, both Indiana natives. Azar has been critical of the Affordable Care Act and has been a proponent of deregulation throughout his career. Azar will have direct control over Medicare and Medicaid, as well as pharmaceutical regulations during a time in which the debate surrounding drug pricing is particularly heated on Capitol Hill.