Congressman Vern Buchanan announced today he has been named co-chair of a special task force on health care, less than a week after taking over as lead Republican on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee as well as joining the exclusive Joint Committee on Taxation.
The Healthy Future Task Force, co-chaired by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), was created by Leader Kevin McCarthy to develop Republican health reform initiatives.
Buchanan and Guthrie are the two top Republicans on the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce health subcommittees, respectively.
In addition to the two new health posts for Buchanan, he was also named Friday to the Joint Committee on Taxation, a 10-member panel that includes the most senior members of the Senate and House tax-writing committees.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to drive health care and tax policy this year and well into the future," Buchanan said. "I'm looking forward to this exciting new challenge to improve the lives of all Americans as well as strengthen the economy."
Over the next several months, Buchanan and Guthrie plan to host listening sessions with their Republican colleagues and hear firsthand from their constituents and Americans across the country to develop proposals that will focus on:
Lowering the cost of health care
Increasing patients' choice of providers
Encouraging investment in new cures and therapies
Providing a strong safety net for seniors and the most vulnerable Americans
Protecting access to personalized care for all Americans
Ensuring patients remain in control of their health care
Breaking down barriers to help all Americans live healthier and longer
Rep. Guthrie said, "I'm excited to have Representative Vern Buchanan co-lead the House Republicans' Healthy Future Task Force with me to deliver health care solutions to the American people." Guthrie also praised Buchanan's "background in health care policy and business in addition to his leadership on Ways and Means' Health Subcommittee "
Health care accounts for nearly one-fifth of all U.S. spending and is enormously important in Buchanan's home state of Florida and its 4.7 million Medicare recipients.
Last week, Buchanan was selected to serve as the top Republican on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, which has broad jurisdiction over traditional Medicare, the Medicare prescription drug benefit and Medicare Advantage. The subcommittee also oversees issues relating to medical education, private health insurance programs and subsidies delivered through the tax code, consumer-directed health savings tools and issues related to the quality of and access to care.
Buchanan, second in seniority on Ways and Means after Leader Kevin Brady, announced last year that he is running to become chairman of the full committee in the new Congress.