On Wednesday, November 29, the HELP Committee held the first of two Committee hearings on his nomination. HELP holds a hearing over the HHS Secretary position, but the actual approval vote comes through the Senate Finance Committee.

Alex Azar, nominated to fill the vacancy left when Tom Price was forced out earlier this year due to his travel expenses worked at HHS as the Department’s General Counsel and Deputy Secretary during the President George W. Bush Administration.

Skeptical questions were raised about his past ties to the pharmaceutical industry since he spent ten years at the Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly drug company. He said he opposed drug reimportation to lower prices.

Azar also made clear he was favorable to recent proposals to convert Medicaid into a block grant “I support it as a concept to look at…”

The nomination shows the continued role of Indiana-based officials (CMS Director Verma). Mr. Azar supported the House-passed ACA repeal bill. He has also spoken against controls on drug pricing. Azar is not likely to complete both a Finance Committee hearing and floor vote until next year.