On Tuesday, the Republican Party released its official platform, which includes Medicare and Medicaid proposals similar to those in House Budget Committee Chair and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget plan, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Specifically, the platform states that the GOP would change Medicare into a partially privatized system, giving seniors the option between the existing Medicare program and subsidies to buy private insurance. In addition, the party would convert Medicaid into a block-grant program (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/28). The platform calls for changing Medicare eligibility to be "more realistic in terms of today's longer life span," but does not specify what age would be appropriate.
In addition, the platform states the GOP would:
- Repeal the Affordable Care Act;
- Support technology advancements for electronic health record and data systems;
- Promote health savings and reimbursement accounts;
- Reform FDA to ensure jobs stay in the U.S.; and
- Discourage the practice of defensive medicine (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 8/28).
The plan also would eliminate the ACA's guaranteed coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, reverting back to existing rules that only guarantee insurance for those who have had continuous coverage ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/28).
GOP Leaders Question Ryan's Plan
Although members of the GOP have embraced Ryan's proposal to reform Medicare on the campaign trail and in the party platform, top House and Senate GOP leaders have not committed to passing the proposal if Republicans take control of Congress and the White House, USA Today reports.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said "there will be other ideas about how you save Medicare; all of those will be part of the big policy debate" next year, regardless of which party has the majority.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also declined to guarantee he will bring the proposal to the floor if Republicans gain a majority in his chamber. However, when asked about how the White House would influence his decisions on Medicare, he said, "If we have a majority, Mitt Romney's in the White House and I'm setting the agenda, it won't surprise you that my agenda is likely to be Mitt Romney's agenda."
Meanwhile, although GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has "cheered" Ryan's attempts to address entitlement spending, members of his campaign staff have said that Romney will develop his own proposals for Medicare (Davis, USA Today, 8/28).