Looking at a tough race next year, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., looked to showcase his record on Medicare this week, even as Democrats took aim at his vote on a prescription drugs bill.
On Wednesday, Buchanan, a member of the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, highlighted his support for three bills expanding Medicare. From his seat on the committee, Buchanan threw his seat behind legislation expanding Medicare coverage to include hearing aids, dental care and vision services.
“The bills, which add the coverage to Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service program, were approved by a voice vote in the House Ways and Means Committee. These services presently are not covered under traditional Medicare, but are frequently covered under Medicare Advantage plans. Most seniors age 65 and over are in traditional Medicare,” Buchanan’s office noted.
Buchanan backed the “Medicare Dental Act,” the “Medicare Vision Act” and the “Medicare Hearing Act.”
“These important health benefits will improve the lives of seniors in my district and across the country,” Buchanan said. “In addition, this could help reduce health care costs by addressing problems earlier in peoples’ lives.
“Expanding Medicare’s services is important and the right thing to do, but it should be done in a fiscally responsible way,” Buchanan continued.
The bills now head to the House floor.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) also looked to highlight Buchanan’s work on the Ways and Means Committee, insisting his vote against the "Elijah Eugene Cummings Lower Drug Prices Now Act" will hurt his district. The DCCC insisted the bill, which is championed by the Democratic leadership, will “lower the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and families" and “allows Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prescription drug prices and reverse unjustified price gouging on thousands of medications like insulin.” The DCCC claimed Buchanan “stood with the big drug companies” by voting against the proposal.
“Seniors and working families need relief from out-of-control prescription drug costs, but Congressman Buchanan just voted to stand with big drug companies over the Floridians living in his district,” said Avery Jaffe, a spokesman for the DCCC on Wednesday. “While House Democrats continue to put the priorities of Americans first, Buchanan once again showed his true colors: he cares more about padding the pockets of the prescription drug manufacturers that lobbied Republicans to oppose this critical legislation.”
Buchanan has already drawn a top Democratic opponent in state Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota. In a special election for an open state House seat, Good defeated the congressman’s son James.