Report: White House weighing plan to replace Health Secretary

White House officials are reportedly weighing a plan to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Donald Trump and Alex Azar
Donald Trump and Alex Azar

White House officials are weighing a plan to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, four people familiar with the discussions told Politico on Saturday.

Among the names on the short list to replace Azar are White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, Medicare chief Seema Verma and deputy HHS Secretary Eric Hargan, the four said.

Senior officials’ long-standing frustrations with the health chief have mounted during the pressure-packed response to the coronavirus outbreak, with White House aides angry this week about Azar’s handling of the ouster of vaccine expert Rick Bright.

At a recent task force meeting, according to Politico, Azar assured Vice President Mike Pence that Bright’s move to the National Institutes of Health was a promotion — only for Bright and his lawyers to release a statement that he would soon file a whistleblower complaint against HHS leadership, blindsiding White House officials, said three officials familiar with the meeting.

White House officials also have blamed Azar for long-running turmoil at the health department and a series of media reports that portrayed him as urging Trump to act on the COVID-19 outbreak in January, only for the president and his aides to disregard Azar’s warnings as alarmist.

Azar has denied the reports, saying that Trump “never once rejected, turned down or dismissed a recommendation” of his or the task force’s.

The White House disputed that officials were considering a plan to replace Azar.

“The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the President’s priorities. Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole-of-government response to COVID-19,” said deputy press Secretary Judd Deere in a statement.

An HHS spokesperson said that "Secretary Azar is busy responding to a global, public health crisis and doesn't have time for palace intrigue," and that he had not had any recent discussions about the possibility of his departure.