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Tag Archives: Secretary of Health and Human Services

Lanhee Chen: Confirm Azar as New Secretary for Health and Human Services

Tax Reform

President Trump has nominated Alex Azar to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.

It’s an important job, as the future of Obamacare hangs in the balance and Republicans continue to express their desire to repeal and replace the law.

Azar is highly qualified for the post: He served as the number two official at the department—and its chief counsel—during the George W. Bush Administration. He was a law clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia. And he’s been a senior executive at one of America’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

Some Democrats have suggested that this private sector experience makes Azar the wrong person to help conquer the opioid crisis and to lower drug costs. But they’re wrong. It’s precisely his experience inside the industry that helps him to better understand how we can address these pressing concerns. It’s no exaggeration to say that few people understand the health care policy environment better than Azar.

The Senate is now considering his nomination. Here’s to hoping that they move quickly to confirm Azar, so he can get to work as soon as possible.

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Lanhee Chen: Karen Handel’s Victory

Tax Reform

Republican Karen Handel’s victory in the special election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District will generate a lot of punditry and spin.

Democrats will argue that they got a lot closer than they should have in a district that Republican Tom Price, now the Secretary of Health and Human Services, won by 23 points less than a year ago.

Republicans will respond by noting that their opponents poured $30 million into the race and yet the Democrat wasn’t able to do any better than Hillary Clinton did in losing the district to Donald Trump last year.

Both sides are right, to some degree. That’s why it’s hard to draw too many conclusions about what this means for the midterms next year. There are many political lifetimes to be led between now and then. And intervening events will impact voters’ opinions over the next 17 months.

We’d all be well served to take a deep breath and let it all unfold. Predicting the future never has been a very good business to be in, anyway.

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