Yesterday the full Senate voted to confirm Alex Azar as HHS Secretary in a 55-43 vote. Family Equality Council remains concerned that Azar will not implement HHS’ mission of enhancing and protecting the health and well-being of ALL Americans, particularly in light of the horrific new proposed rule, and the agency HHS created just last week within HHS’ Office of Civil Rights, to allow medical and child welfare providers to refuse treatment and services to LGBTQ people, women and others.
In his remarks to the Senate just before the confirmation vote, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee which oversees HHS’ foster care and adoption programs, expressed these same worries. He referenced such new initiatives promoting anti-LGBTQ discrimination at HHS, urging Azar to reverse them to comply with his statements during his nomination process. Wyden said (minute 13:30):
“Now the Administration is even going after protections for LGBTQ Americans … the administration is doing a lot more to protect the perpetrators of discrimination than the victims. Healthcare is a right in America, but discrimination is not … [Azar] said in his confirmation hearing ‘if I get this job my job is to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans.’ But he has not committed to reversing these kinds of … discriminatory practices I’ve just described.”
Family Equality Council applauds Senator Wyden for speaking out on behalf of LGBTQ Americans, and is counting on Senator Wyden, Chairman Hatch, and all Senate Finance Committee members to continue to provide strong oversight to ensure that HHS serves all Americans equally, and does not prioritize discriminatory beliefs over the health of Americans and the best interests of the children HHS serves.
For more background, see our January 16, 2018 coverage of Alex Azar’s confirmation hearing.