Democratic and Republican Party Platforms: Side-by-Side Comparison of Issues Important to Medicare Beneficiaries

Print Friendly

The two major American political parties have released their 2016 party platforms in anticipation of their respective party conventions and the upcoming general election. Given the importance of health care in this upcoming election, the Center for Medicare Advocacy has done an initial analysis of the health-related positions of the two parties. Below we present a comparison of Medicare and health care related policies the two parties may pursue according to their platform statements, as well as links to those statements so those interested in more detail can read them in their entirety.


Democratic Party Platform Positions (Draft)

Republican Party Platform Positions (Final)

Medicare Structural Reform

No Statement

“Impose no changes for persons [currently] 55 or older. Give others the option of traditional Medicare or  transition to a premium-support model  designed to strengthen patient choice.” [1]

Give every person eligible for Medicare in the future who is also under 55 years of age an income-adjusted stipend (with catastrophic protection) to put towards health expenses.[2]

Medicare Eligibility

Optional Medicare buy-in for persons 55 or older[3]

“Set a more realistic age for eligibility in light of today’s longer life span.”[4] (The Center interprets this to mean raising the age of Medicare eligibility.)

Puerto Rican Medicare Access

Equal access to Medicare for Puerto Ricans[5]

No Statement

Access to Health Care

End goal is universal health coverage. Americans should be able to access comprehensive health coverage through either Medicare or a public health option.[6]

No Statement

Medical Costs

Keep premiums more affordable reduce out-of-pocket expenses[7]

No Statement

End “surprise billing.” Consumers should be aware of health costs prior to a visit to a physician.[8]

Rx Costs and Access

Cap the amount Americans have to pay every month in out-of-pocket expenses[9]

No Statement

Medicare should be able to negotiate Rx prices with drug manufacturers[10]

Prohibit “pay-for-delay” tactics that keep cheaper generic drugs from entering the market[11]

Allow American consumers to import less-expensive drugs from abroad with appropriate safety protections[12]

The Affordable Care Act

Push for the expansion of Medicaid eligibility in states that have not taken this step.[13]

The Affordable Care Act “must be removed and replaced with an approach based on genuine competition, patient choice, excellent care, wellness, and timely access to treatment.  To that end, a Republican president, on the first day in office, will use legitimate waiver authority under the law to halt its advance and then, with the unanimous support of Congressional Republicans, will sign its repeal.”[14]

Community Health Centers

The Democratic platform calls for “a push for a comprehensive system of primary medical, dental, and mental health care and low-cost prescription drugs through a major expansion of community health centers” with the goal of providing valuable preventive care, education, and treatment of chronic conditions for many low-income Americans.[15]

No Statement

Meeting the Health Needs of a Diverse Population

Health materials should be culturally and linguistically appropriate and easy to read.[16]

No Statement


Health data should be separated into its component parts for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This will help in developing and understanding the health needs and preferences of these two disparate groups.[17]

End-of-Life Rights

No Statement

“America’s healthcare professionals should not be forced to choose between following their faith and practicing their profession. We respect the rights of conscience of healthcare professionals… Providers should not be permitted to unilaterally withhold services because a patient’s life is deemed not worth living.”[18]

Advancing Americans with Disabilities

No Statement

Support the Steve Gleason Act of 2015, which provided access to speech-generating devices to ALS-diagnosed Medicare beneficiaries. [19]