The U.S. Senate on Wednesday, with the help of crucial votes by Democrats, confirmed former Eli Lilly executive Alex Azar to become the nation's top healthcare administrator, provoking ire among progressives and healthcare advocates.
Shame on every Senator who voted to put pharma exec Alex Azar, who has a long history of putting profits over people, in charge of regulating the health care industry: https://t.co/b4Gqxvwedv pic.twitter.com/DMAwR2l6Bw
— SocialSecurityWorks (@SSWorks) January 24, 2018
Notable on the rollcall list, and the source of ire among critics, was the fact that six Democratic Senators—Doug Jones of Alabama, Tom Carper of Delaware, Chris Coons of Delaware,Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia —joined with Republicans and voted in favor. With the addition of Sen. Angus King, the Indepedent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, that gave Azar the needed support to be confirmed.
Democrats provided the margin of victory for Azar, would have been 48-50 if Dems all voted no https://t.co/UFH9GRsf9n
— David Dayen Pass-Through Vehicle LLC (@ddayen) January 24, 2018
Which Democrats helped Repubs approve this greedy #BigPharma CEO?@SenatorCarper - DE@ChrisCoons - DE@SenDonnelly - IN@SenatorHeitkamp - ND@GDouglasJones - AL@Sen_JoeManchin - WV#WeWantBetterDems pic.twitter.com/LgCt0hhw6S
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President Donald Trump nominated Azar after his first Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign last year following revelations he was using taxpayer money to charter private plans for unnecessary trips.
While opponents of his nomination, including advocacy groups like Public Citizen, mounted an aggressive campaign to block Azar's confirmation, in the end it was not enough.
"Shame on every Senator who voted to put big pharma CEO Alex Azar, who colluded to triple the price of insulin, in charge of regulating the health care industry," said Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, in response to the confirmation. "If Azar's record of corruption is any indication of his future behavior, his tenure will be even shorter than his predecessor Tom Price."