The Ways and Means candidates
Rep. Vern Buchanan
What he'd do: In an emailed statement, Buchanan stuck to tried and true GOP policies: “Republicans are committed to modernizing the American health care system to lower costs, keep Americans healthy, develop better therapies and cures, and empower Americans with more choices."
- He also said he wants to strengthen the medical supply chain and permanently classify fentanyl as a Schedule I drug.
What we know about him: Buchanan has served on Ways and Means since 2011 and has been the top Republican on five of the six subcommittees, including currently the Health subcommittee.
- He also co-chaired the Republican Healthy Futures Task Force.
- He's known to be pro-business as a long-time car dealership owner and former chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Buchanan is also one of the wealthiest members of Congress.
- He's been the leading the pack in fundraising among the three running for Ways and Means chairman throughout the race so far.
- This year, he's introduced three health-related bills focused on requiring CMS to evaluate drugs based on their own merit (a reaction to Aduhelm's coverage restriction), expand telehealth service sites and implement a medical research tax credit.
- Buchanan penned an op-ed in August speaking out against the Inflation Reducution Act's drug pricing provisions, but didn't explicitly call for a repeal.
Health care donors: His top contributors in the last year were Advocate Radiation Oncology, American Dental Association, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Humana, according to Open Secrets. He received $200,850 from health and pharmaceutical companies in 2021-2022.
Fun thing: Buchanan's son, James Buchanan, is also a lawmaker serving in the Florida House of Representatives.
Rep. Jason Smith
What he'd do: Smith told Axios he'd focus on access to health care in rural America, telehealth, price transparency, health care security, innovation and “aggressive oversight.”
- He said he wants to hold hearings all over the country, “where real Americans can testify in front of our committee about the cost of care.”
- He also wants to focus his "aggressive oversight" on issues such as understanding "how Democrats have used health care spending for "liberal priorities" and whether ACA subsidies should be given to wealthier individuals.
What we know about him: Smith has served as the Republican ranking member of the House Budget Committee for almost two years.
- Recent committee work has focused on messaging about how the IRA is contributing to inflation and how the American Rescue Plan’s COVID spending has resulted in “waste and fraud.”
- He's a member of the Ways and Means health subcommittee.
- This year he’s introduced three health-related bills focused on mental health, telehealth and a child tax credit for a miscarriage or still-born children.
What we don't know: Smith won't say if he supports controversial Medicare reform policies, like raising the eligibility age, or whether he would vote to repeal the IRA's drug pricing provisions.
Health care donors: His top contributors in the last year were UnitedHealth Group and Humana. He received $109,550 from health and pharmaceutical companies in 2021-2022, according to Open Secrets.
One notable thing: Smith was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives at age 25 (just one year above the required age to serve) and was one of the youngest speaker pro tems in state history.
Rep. Adrian Smith
What he'd do: Smith told Axios he'd focus on telehealth, Medicare Part B premiums, the ACA family glitch, critical access hospitals, and health workforce issues.
- "I want to facilitate committee hearings where members at the end of the hearing from both sides would think, I hadn’t thought about that ... rather than launch a bunch of talking points from both sides," Smith said.
- Smith also wants to hold oversight hearings on health topics such as overall premiums under Obamacare, seniors' frustrations with Medicare complexities and providers' frustrations with CMS.
What we know about him: Smith has served on Ways and Means Committee since 2011, held three different subcommittee leadership roles (including leading Trade right now) and currently serves on the Health subcommittee.
- This year, he’s introduced two health-related bills focused on rural telehealth and critical access hospital relief.
- Smith told Axios he would "definitely support" repealing the IRA’s drug pricing provisions, but would want to circle up with his colleagues to see how to best move forward with it.
What we don't know: He declined to say if would support controversial Medicare reform policies, saying he wants bipartisan input for any reform.
Health care donors: His top contributors in the last year were the American Hospital Association, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Amgen. He received $85,551 from health and pharmaceutical companies in 2021-2022, according to Open Secrets.
Fun thing: Smith has been asked to sing solo at a number of events through the years, though he also likes to gather a quartet if possible. His favorites to sing are "God Bless the USA" and the National Anthem, per his office.