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He’s kept a low profile since he was sworn in as Donald Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) just six weeks ago. But Alex Azar is already up to no good.

Just like his predecessor, former HHS Secretary Tom Price, Azar is working to further the Trump-Pence administration’s dangerous agenda — an agenda that undermines people’s health and hurts Planned Parenthood patients.

Azar is also boss to several absurdly anti-women’s health Trump-Pence administration officials: we’re talking the worst of the worst. This includes Office of Refugee Resettlement director — and anti-abortion extremist — Scott Lloyd, and abstinence only until marriage advocate, Valerie Huber, who is now overseeing the nation’s family planning program.

Trump has referred to Azar, a former drug executive, as “a star” but — per usual — that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In six weeks, Alex Azar:

1. Refused to Fire Anti-Abortion Extremist Scott Lloyd

Alex Azar is the boss of Scott Lloyd, the head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) who has tried to unconstitutionally coerce young undocumented immigrant women out of seeking safe, legal abortion. This has happened multiple times.

Despite the fact that Lloyd abused his position of power, violated young women’s right to privacy and threatened their health, Azar has defended Lloyd, arguing that the Office of Refugee Resettlement is doing things "right and correctly." In other words, he’s protecting an anti-abortion creep who desperately needs to be fired.

2. Undermined sexual and reproductive health

Under Azar’s direction, HHS is continuing to move forward with new plans for the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which include promoting denial of health care to  LGBTQ folks and people seeking abortions and other reproductive health services. OCR is headed up by Roger Severino, formerly of the Heritage Foundation.

Meanwhile, throughout the rest of Trump’s administration, anti-discrimination language is disappearing from agencies’ mission statements and websites. This isn’t just erasure — it’s an attack.

3. Approved cruel work requirements

As one of his first official actions after joining HHS, Azar traveled to his home of Indiana to announce approval of Indiana’s proposal to impose Medicaid work requirements; soon after HHS approved a similar waiver from Arkansas. So-called “work requirements” —  which the Trump-Pence administration is encouraging states to adopt — are just another way to allow discrimination against women and families with low incomes and block their access to basic health care.

Almost two-thirds of those who could lose Medicaid coverage due to work requirements are women. This stems, in part, from the fact that women are more likely to provide informal and undervalued caregiving or have low-wage jobs that don’t provide health care coverage.

Alex Azar and Donald Trump at Azar's swearing-in ceremony.

4. Pushed for harmful "short-term" health plans

Under Azar, HHS issued a proposed rule that would allow so-called “short-term” health plans, which do not provide comprehensive coverage, to be used for up to a year. Short-term plans are not required to cover women’s preventive services, which include birth control, maternity care, mental health, or prescription drug coverage. Plus, these plans often have blanket exclusions on pre-existing conditions.

5. Endorsed Trump’s disastrous budget proposal

When the Trump-Pence administration outlined its budget goals earlier this year, Alex Azar gave the agenda a thumbs up. In addition to blocking Planned Parenthood from participating in all federal health programs, the Trump budget would slash Medicaid, place new bans on abortion access for immigrant women in ICE detention, and promote efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as we know it. Anyone who approves of this dangerous plan doesn’t have the best interests of women and families in mind.

6. Supported dangerous abstinence-only-until-marriage programs

The Trump-Pence budget would have disastrous implications for sex ed programs that keep young people healthy and informed. Not only does the Azar-endorsed budget propose to eliminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), but it also emphasizes fertility awareness methods over more effective forms of birth control and funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. HHS is supposed to equip us with information to make decisions about our own health — not push their anti-sex agenda on us.


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