Party Conventions Offer Competing Visions of Health Care 

By Max Friedman 


The political conventions are over, the tickets are selected, and the country and candidates are moving towards the November election. The last two weeks saw back-to-back presentations of the major parties’ views on a variety of policy issues. While the presidential nominees didn’t devote a lot of time to health care, there were some interesting developments in the party platforms this year.

The Republicans

Republican Party Platform

Donald Trump Campaign Heath Care Issue Page

The GOP nominated Donald Trump for President and Indiana Governor Mike Pence for Vice President. In his acceptance speech, Trump said, “We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare. You will be able to choose your own doctor again.” The GOP convention spent little time on health care, as noted by Dan Diamond of Politico.

However, the platform written by delegates from around the country did have some interesting points. Here are some key ones:

  • A full repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. It claims that a Republican president would use waivers to halt its progress on his first day in office.
  • “Return to the states their historic role of regulating local insurance markets, limit federal requirements on both private insurance and Medicaid, and call on state officials to reconsider the costly medical mandates, imposed under their own laws, that price millions of low-income families out of the insurance market.”
  • Block grant Medicaid funding to the states
  • Promote price transparency so that patients know the cost of procedures before treatment.

Overall, the GOP platform pushes competition and consumer choice as remedies to the problems ailing the health care system. Interestingly, Governor Pence accepted the Medicaid expansion provisions of the ACA in Indiana, though it requires expansion beneficiaries to pay into Health Savings Accounts, so that they have “skin in the game.”

The Democrats

Democratic Party Platform

Hillary Clinton Campaign Health Care Issue Page

The Democratic Party supports the ACA, a key legacy of outgoing President Barack Obama’s tenure, placing it in a line of achievements going back to the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s. In her acceptance speech, Clinton touted the twenty million Americans who now have health insurance due to the ACA, and implored voters to join her. “If you believe that every man, woman and child in America has the right to affordable health care…” Clinton said.  

The Democratic platform this year had some notable bold positions on health care. Supporters of Clinton and primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont crafted a platform plank that declared health care as “a right, not a privilege, and our health care system should put people before profits…[a] fundamental right for every American.”

Here are some key points in the platform and from Clinton’s campaign:

  • The platform calls for a public insurance option and an option for those over the age of 55 to buy into Medicare. We wrote about this development in July.
  • Clinton proposes a tax credit of up to $5,000 per family to offset rising out-of-pocket costs and premiums above 5 percent of household income, as well as a cap on premiums of 8.5% of household income.
  • Fix the “family glitch” so that families can purchase subsidized coverage on the exchanges if an employer’s plan is unaffordable.

Third Parties

Green Party candidate Jill Stein supports a universal single payer health care plan.

The Libertarian Party, which is running former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, supports a “free-market health care system.” 

Further Reading

Here are some other resources comparing the candidates on health care, and reporting on what may happen after Election Day:

With over three months left until the election. Hopefully all of the candidates will spend some time discussing this vital national issue.

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