On Jan. 24, 2018, the Senate confirmed Alex Azar as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Azar was officially sworn in on Jan. 29. Azar, a former Eli Lilly executive, was confirmed by the Senate 55-43, with support from six Democrats largely from states Donald Trump won in the 2016 presidential election and Sen. Angus King (I-ME). Azar replaced Dr. Tom Price, a former Congressman from Georgia who resigned last September amid a scandal over his use of private jets at taxpayer expense.
Azar isn’t expected to shake up operations at the HHS. In his confirmation hearings and in his official response to questions from Democrats, Azar tracked closely with Trump administration policies on the Affordable Care Act, Medicare spending, and other issues. Azar has said his priorities include curbing the cost of prescription drugs, making health insurance more affordable and available, and confronting the opioid addiction epidemic.
Impact on General Dentistry: The AGD will continue to monitor policy proposals and changes announced by HHS. In the interim, the AGD looks forward to establishing a relationship with the incoming leadership at HHS to continue working together on issues of importance to oral health and general dentistry.