It's a propitious time, at least for conservatives, for Alex Azar to take the top job at HHS. All elements have aligned for him to mold the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare according to a vision they can support.
Things have changed since Azar last served at HHS under President George W. Bush. The ACA didn't exist then, and the Bush era's major overhaul to Medicare with Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D became Azar's signature accomplishments during his time at the department.
It's his experience with these reforms that indicate how he would reshape the ACA, grapple with rising drug prices and manage Medicare and Medicaid.
Now Azar is poised to take the helm at the mammoth department and its $80 billion budget. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to move his nomination to the full Senate in the coming weeks amid a lack of known opposition to his being confirmed as HHS secretary. During his confirmation hearings, he left little doubt that he can advance his agenda with an efficiency that eluded the embattled Dr. Tom Price.
Azar—a former HHS legal counsel and deputy secretary, as well as a powerful pharmaceutical industry executive—holds Democratic respect for his expertise even if they fear his policy positions. And, according to former colleagues, he is also respected by the career HHS staff. He will have the winds of cooperation at his back.