President Trump names Eric Hargan acting HHS secretary

Eric Hargan is now the acting Department of Health and Human Services secretary, the White House announced Tuesday. 

Eric Hargan
Eric Hargan

Hargan, who was sworn in as deputy HHS secretary last week, will take over for Don J. Wright. Wright has served in the post since Tom Price, M.D., resigned on Sept. 29 amid days of controversy over his use of private planes for official travel. 

RELATED: Eric Hargan sworn in as HHS deputy secretary

The Trump administration did not offer further details on the appointment in the announcement 

Price's resignation after just a few months on the job came in the wake of a Politico investigation that found his trips on private planes cost upwards of $400,000. Two federal probes into the spending launched in the days leading up to Price's resignation. 

The news broke as Price was calling for HHS staffers to "reimagine" the agency and make significant cost reductions. 

RELATED: Price check—Former HHS secretary reimbursed Treasury for his private travel before he resigned 

Hargan previously served in the Bush administration and served on President Donald Trump's HHS transition team. He was confirmed with the support of seven Democrats, one independent and all Republicans. 

Wright praised Hargan following his confirmation. 

"Eric Hargan brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and leadership experience to HHS," Wright said. "His commitment to public service and vast experience in the healthcare field will help guide the department as we advance President Trump's agenda on behalf of the American people." 

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who opposed Hargan's confirmation, accused him of playing a role what Democrats believe is sabotage to the Affordable Care Act. Hargan declined to dive into specifics about backing the ACA during his confirmation hearings, but said he was enthusiastic to take on the position of deputy secretary. 

Meanwhile, Hargan's appointment comes as the administration seeks a full-time secretary and gears up for a likely Senate battle over the nominee. Leading the list of potential candidates is CMS Administrator Seema Verma, who has received generally positive industry response for her work thus far with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and has already withstood Senate scrutiny once to take that post. 

RELATED: FDA's Scott Gottlieb says agency will lean on payers, pharmacy benefit managers to curb opioid prescriptions 

Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has also been mentioned in conversation around potential replacements for Price, but Gottlieb said Tuesday he feels he can best serve the current administration in the FDA, according to an article from Reuters. 

"I feel like I want to follow through on the policies we've put out and it's where I think I can be most effective," Gottlieb told the outlet in an interview.