HHS Secretary Alex Azar has resigned and mentioned in his letter that the administration's legacy would be tarnished by the Capitol riots, according to CNN.
Azar follows several administration officials who have resigned, albeit just a few days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, following attacks at the Capitol orchestrated by supporters of President Donald Trump. Azar's resignation will go into effect on Jan. 20, the day his term would have ended due to the inauguration. CMS Administrator Seema Verma on Friday similarly announced she would resign her position effective Jan. 20.
"Thanks to your willingness to take on all of the entrenched special interests in healthcare, we have put the patienttruly at the center of the system, with the potential for the first time in 55 years to have a competitive system of healthcare in which quality goes up and prices go down," Azar wrote in his letter addressed to Trump.
Read the letter here.
Rumors swirled throughout last year that Azar would either be fired or leave the Trump administration. But he managed to keep his post as head of a department that is ground zero for the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the pandemic continued to be the top story, Azar also championed key Trump administration policies on price transparency and deregulation, among other things. In late November, the department finalized rules overhauling Stark law and anti-kickback statutes, aiming to make it easier for providers to enter into value-based arrangements. "Providers could effectively begin changing their conduct immediately," he told Modern Healthcare.
Biden has chosen California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as his nominee for HHS secretary. Becerra has led the Democratic states' court fight to protect the Affordable Care Act.
As California's attorney general, Becerra has led the coalition of Democratic states defending "Obamacare" from the Trump administration's latest effort to overturn it, a legal case awaiting a Supreme Court decision next year.