GOP platform embraces Ryan plans for Medicare, Medicaid

The Republican Party’s official platform calls for deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, in keeping with controversial proposals from vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

The party platform, adopted Tuesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., further ties the party to Ryan’s sweeping healthcare reforms, particularly his plans for Medicare.

The platform says Medicare should be converted into a partially privatized system in which seniors would choose between the existing Medicare program or a subsidy to help buy private insurance. Ryan proposed a similar framework in his budget proposal this year after crafting a version last year that would not have preserved the existing program as an option.

{mosads}”This is the only way to limit costs and restore consumer choice for patients and introduce competition; for in healthcare, as in any other sector of the economy, genuine competition is the best guarantee of better care at lower cost,” the platform states.

The document also calls for converting Medicaid into a state block-grant program, which would save the federal government billions of dollars and give the states the power to control both the number of people eligible for Medicaid and the benefits they would receive.

Ryan and presidential candidate Mitt Romney previously have endorsed both proposals, as well as the repeal of President Obama’s signature healthcare law.

Republicans have not laid out a plan to recreate one of the most popular pieces of the Affordable Care Act — prohibiting insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. The GOP platform, echoing Romney’s past statements on the issue, states only that “individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous insurance coverage should be protected from discrimination.”

People with continuous coverage are already protected by current law. The Affordable Care Act extends the guarantee of coverage to people who have had gaps in their coverage — for example, those who have lost a job and the accompanying healthcare benefits.

Republicans say they’ll repeal the healthcare law and replace it with policies that give more power to consumers, including greater price transparency and allowing the sale of insurance across state lines.

“Putting the patient at the center of policy decisions will increase choice and reduce costs while ensuring that services provide what Americans actually want,” the platform states.

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