Trump’s HHS Secretary Nomination and Healthcare Economist Uwe Reinhardt

News Editor Joyce Frieden at Medpage Today offers up an excellent review of President Trump’s head of HHS selection Alex Azar. If you do not read MedPage Today, it is a good site to get information on healthcare and healthcare policy.

Orrin Hatch of Utah: “The leader of HHS will be at the tip of the spear, working to not only right the wrongs of [the Affordable Care Act] but also ensure the long-term sustainability of both Medicare and Medicaid,”

Wow, that is great. Perhaps Hatch will fix things like the skin-in-the-game co-pays and deductibles Congress put in place and reduce them to a reasonable level taking the pressure off the individuals’ market place.

“This candidate has the experience, knowledge and fortitude to take on these daunting challenges. I look forward to learning about his plan to restore our faith in our nation’s healthcare system and get it back on track doing what it does best – saving lives and improving the health and well-being of all Americans. I hope my colleagues on the Finance Committee will work with me in the advancement of a fair and transparent vetting process for this nominee.”

That will be a miracle in itself. Including the president, Republicans have not put anything up legislatively substantial to replace the ACA in Congress. Their only effort has been to repeal, return healthcare back to what it was pre-2010 and disenfranchise 22 -30 million citizens who have healthcare under the ACA. The Republicans are offering up the same old BS which has been on the plate since 2008 only this time it is being offered up by a different waiter.

Arguably this HHS Director candidate is more qualified to lead the HHS than his predecessor. However, Democrats and advocacy groups are not so pleased with Trump’s selection. Here is Public Citizen’s President Robert Weisman’s comment:

“If Alex Azar’s nomination is confirmed, then Big Pharma’s coup d’etat in the healthcare sphere will be virtually complete.”

Public Citizen’s Peter Maybarduk adds;

“As Tweeter-in-Chief, Trump tells us Azar will be a ‘star’ who will lower prescription prices. Maybe he should have asked the 6 million diabetic Americans whose insulin prices have more than tripled under Azar’s watch at Eli Lilly.”

Mr. Alex Azar does have the qualifications. Alex Azar is the former head of pharma giant Eli Lilly’s U.S. division. He was also the HHS general counsel and deputy secretary during the George W. Bush administration. He has received praise for his competence and knowledge about health policy. He is a strong critic of the Affordable Care Act and he has opposed ideas for reducing prescription drug prices such as purchasing drugs from other countries where prices are lower.

Again Peter Maybarduk;

“Eli Lilly is notorious for spiking prices of this century-old isolated hormone. During Azar’s tenure as president and vice president, Eli Lilly raised the price of Humalog by 345%, from $2,657.88 per year to $9,172.80 per year.”

This does not bode well for consumers of healthcare and pharmaceuticals. Of course then, what has been favorable for citizens when taking into consideration Republican’s attitude towards the ACA and erasing what a previous president accomplished in spite of their blockage. Others such as the Bipartisan Policy Center view Azar’s overall healthcare and pharmaceutical experience as a positive as he would bring industry perspective to the healthcare environment today as the head of the HHS. Azar’s overall objectivity remains to be seen and experienced when considering the ACA, pharmaceutical costs, handing over ACA policy to states, and changes to Medicaid and Medicare. Former head Tom Price failed as the head due to a lack of objectivity, his planned sabotage of the ACA, and in taking advantage of supposed HHS perks.

Today, effective healthcare for all advocate Uwe Reinhardt died. His research focused on hospital pricing, healthcare systems around the world, Medicare and healthcare spending. His work appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Health Affairs, the British Medical Journal, the New York Times and other leading publications. Uwe;

Politically, you cannot legislate what rationally makes perfect sense.”

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