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There's a New Health Secretary. What Will He Mean for Women's Health?

There's a New Health Secretary. What Will He Mean for Women's Health?
From TIME - January 24, 2018

On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical company executive, as the new secretary of Health and Human Services.

Though Azars formal position on womens reproductive rights is largely unknown, reproductive health groups are roundly criticizing the pick. Azar is the former president of Eli Lilly USA and served in HHS under former President George W. Bush.

The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of patients have access to affordable and high-quality reproductive health care, said Dr. Anne Davis, Consulting Medical Director of Physicians for Reproductive Health in a statement about the confirmation. Mr. Azar, however, has been a harsh critic of the ACA and once called it a fundamentally broken system. As physicians, we seek to preserve gains brought by the ACA for Americans, and we are concerned Mr. Azar does not has those same interests in mind.

During a confirmation hearing for Azar in late November, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray asked Azar if he supports a recent rule from the Trump Administration that allows employers with a conscience objection to deny insurance coverage for contraception for women (the law is currently blocked by a federal court). Azar responded that the number of employers believed to take advantage of the rule is overall small, but said I do believe we have to balance of course a womans choice of insurance that she would want with the conscience of employers and others.

According to Talking Points Memo, Azar also told Murray in a written response to her questions regarding a strategic plan released by HHS which stated that life begins at conception, that The mission of HHS is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, and this includes the unborn.

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