'No One Should Be Fooled': Warren Rips Trump's HHS Pick Over Desire to Gut Medicaid
While President Donald Trump’s Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Alex Azar—a former pharma executive—spent most of his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday ducking and dodging pointed questions about his long history of “price gouging,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) decided to call Azar out on his support for gutting Medicaid and turning the program into a block grant.
After Azar suggested he supports block granting Medicaid as a “concept to look at” but refused to say whether he would move in that direction if confirmed, Warren said, “Mr. Azar, you can own up to the fact that you want to cut Medicaid and gut the Affordable Care Act, like every other member of the Trump administration.”
“But you want to smile and pretend otherwise until you get the job,” Warren added. “No one should be fooled.”
As recently as February of last year, Azar—who worked as an executive for the pharma giant Eli Lilly for a decade—said he believes there is “a lot to commend a block grant approach.”
“At a time when the U.S. is facing a nationwide crisis of access to affordable medicines, the top official in charge of healthcare should not be a former pharmaceutical company executive with a history of making lifesaving medicines unaffordable.”
In an analysis published in 2016, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concluded that the “approach” hinted at by Azar would “institute deep cuts to federal funding for state Medicaid programs and threaten benefits for tens of millions of low-income families, senior citizens, and people with disabilities.”
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