President Donald Trump said Monday he intends to nominate a former pharmaceutical executive and Maryland resident as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Alex Azar, who grew up in Salisbury, worked most recently as the president of Lilly USA, the U.S. affiliate of drug giant Eli Lilly and Company. He was a deputy secretary of HHS under President George W. Bush.
If confirmed by the Senate, Azar would replace Trump's first health secretary, former Georgia congressman Tom Price. Price was ensnared in a scandal involving his use of private charter jets.
Trump announced Azar's appointment on Twitter, writing that he will "be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!"
Azar, an outspoken critic of Obamacare, would take over the massive department at a time when the Trump administration is considering using its regulatory power to unwind portions of the Affordable Care Act after Republicans in Congress have been unable to repeal the law.
Rep. Andy Harris, the Baltimore County Republican who represents the Eastern Shore, called Azar "an excellent, highly-qualified" candidate.
"Mr. Azar knows the Department of Health and Human Services inside and out, and will work with Congress as we continue the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare and lower the cost of healthcare for hardworking Americans," Harris said in a statement.
Azar’s father, Dr. Alex Azar, has practiced ophthalmology on the Eastern Shore since 1976.