This morning the Senate HELP Committee will hold its first hearing on HHS Secretary nominee, and former Big Pharma CEO, Alex Azar. Azar is a candidate hand-picked for the drug and insurance companies and will do anything to keep industry profits high even when it means raising insurance premiums and costs for lifesaving medication for the American people. It’s no surprise Azar, like Donald Trump, wants to destroy the Affordable Care Act and turn Medicaid into a block grant program, both of which are on industry bucket lists, raise costs for consumers, and disproportionately hurt women and working families.
American Bridge Rapid Response Director Emily Aden stated, “Donald Trump picked Alex Azar to lead HHS because he knows he can trust Azar to carry out his dangerous and destructive health care agenda. From dismantling the Affordable Care Act, to raising prices for prescription drugs, to rolling back access to women’s health care, Trump and Azar are locked in step. If he’s confirmed the true loser here will be the American people.”
Here’s what you need to know for today’s hearing:
1. Azar is a former chief executive officer at Eli Lilly and is watching out for Big Pharma’s profits. He has a record opposing reforms that would lower drug costs for consumers because it would damage industry profits. On his watch, Eli Lilly was accused of colluding to inflate the cost of life saving Insulin. [Politico, 11/14/17; Class Action Complaint – 1:17-CV-10158, 1/30/17]
2. Azar’s support from Republicans is bought and paid for. He personally gave to Donald Trump’s campaign and while he ran Eli Lilly the company’s PAC gave $167,500 to Republicans on the Senate HELP Committee who will now weigh his nomination. [Federal Election Commission, accessed 11/27/17]
3. Azar sounds a lot like Donald Trump on the Affordable Care Act. Azar says the Affordable Care Act is “fundamentally broken” and “failing.” [Washington Examiner, 11/13/17]
4. Azar doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act because it “made it impossible” for insurance companies to make money. He said, “First, if you’re running an insurance company you’ve got to be able to make money, and in order to make money you’ve got to be able to predict risk. The Obamacare system has made it impossible to predict risk.” [ABC News, 11/13/17]
5. Azar is a dangerous pick for women. He is anti-choice and committed to legislation that would take away women’s reproductive freedom. He also wants to turn Medicaid into a block grant program which allows Republican governors to take away critical funding for women’s health care. [Azar Remarks, 8/31/06 and 2/23/17]