Perry plan vague on healthcare cuts

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The latter option — using Medicare to buy private insurance — is at least rhetorically similar to Ryan's plan. He proposed converting the current Medicare system, which pays directly for seniors' health costs, into a program where seniors would receive subsidies to help buy private insurance.

Democrats saw a tremendous political advantage in Ryan's proposal.

Perry also proposed giving states more control over their Medicaid programs, though again with few details.

"Instead of the federal government confiscating money from states, taking a cut off the top, and then sending the money back with limited flexibility for how states can actually use it, individual states should control the program's funding requirements from the very beginning," his plan says.

Republican front-runner Mitt Romney has said he would convert federal Medicaid funding into block grants to the states, which could only grow at only 1 or 2 percent per year.