The Senate on Wednesday voted 55 to 43 to confirm as Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar, a former drug company executive who grew up in Salisbury and has said lowering drug prices will be his top priority.
A former pharmaceutical industry official who says drug prices are too high will now be in charge of buying more medications than anyone in the world. Azar is the former CEO of Eli Lilly.
Azar served as HHS's general counsel and deputy secretary from 2001 to 2007.
Republicans argued his combination of government and private sector experience made him uniquely qualified to replace Trump's first HHS secretary - Tom Price - who resigned in September after racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel bills for chartered flights. Patty Murray of Washington on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.
"In Wisconsin and across the country, health care premiums are going up because of the uncertainty and chaos created by the Trump Administration's repeated sabotage of our health care system over the previous year".
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., praised Azar as intelligent and competent, noting he will be a "solid" leader for HHS.
During a committee hearing in November, Azar told lawmakers he'd work on lowering the cost of prescription medicine. Azar also previously served as HHS secretary from 2005 to 2007, where he helped to implement Medicare Part D.
Azar's comments are especially helpful for organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor and Christian-run businesses like Hobby Lobby that don't want to be forced by the federal government to pay for abortions or abortion-causing drugs in their employee health insurance plans.
"The Trump administration's determination to destroy the Affordable Care Act through executive action has destabilized our health care system and threatened coverage for millions", Sen.
Senator Baldwin has also worked on bipartisan solutions to strengthen and stabilize the health insurance market and improve access to health care.