Republican healthcare platform calls for Medicare and Medicaid overhaul

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Republican National Convention delegates voted Tuesday on the party's official platform, which proposes significant structural changes to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. It notably calls for the repeal of recent healthcare reforms mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

The healthcare portion of the platform, which is modeled after Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposed 2013 budget, would convert Medicare to a “premium support” model. Beneficiaries would be allowed to either retain the existing Medicare plan, or select a private plan “with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee's choice.” This is often referred to as a voucher plan.

The GOP platform also calls for major changes to Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor that pays for the bulk of skilled nursing facility care. In addition to proposing a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's massive Medicaid expansion, the GOP plan would turn Medicaid into a block grant program that would provide states with the flexibility to design programs that meet the needs of their low income citizens,” according to platform language.

Long-term care providers have long argued that block grant programs adopt a “one-size-fits-all” approach that would threaten nursing home funding. Provider groups have asserted that block grants transfer federal demands of Medicaid to states without any guarantees. This could compound the budget problems many state executives face.

While the party's platform is not binding for Republicans running for public office, it is used prominently in many campaigns leading up to November elections. Members of Congress, not the president, ultimately vote to create or change legislation that could affect programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Click here to read the document.

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