Comparing Party Platforms

A close examination of each Party’s most recent Platform (2016) reveals its core beliefs and could provide a powerful indication of how that Party’s nominee will vote.

For your convenience, we have broken the lengthy party platforms into digestible portions based on topic and placed them side-by-side for comparison.


Democratic Party Platform

The Democratic Platform has an overarching category addressing healthcare: Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans (p. 30-35).
Democrats have been fighting to secure universal health care for the American people for generations, and we are proud to be the party that passed Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Being stronger together means finally achieving that goal. We are going to fight to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care. We will tackle the problems that remain in our health care system, including cracking down on runaway prescription drug prices and addressing mental health with the same seriousness that we treat physical health. We will fight Republican efforts to roll back the clock on women’s health and reproductive rights, and stand up for Planned Parenthood. And we will tackle the epidemics of substance abuse and gun violence, which each claim tens of thousands of lives every year.
Securing Universal Health Care (p. 31)
Democrats believe that health care is a right, not a privilege. . . we took a critically important step toward the goal of universal health care by passing the Affordable Care Act. . . Americans should be able to access public coverage through a public option, and those over 55 should be able to opt in to Medicare. Democrats will empower the states. . . removing barriers to states which seek to experiment with plans to ensure universal health care to every person in their state. . .

For too many. . . costs are still too high. . . And medical debt is a problem for far too many working families. . . will also work to end surprise billing and other practices that lead to out-of-control medical debt. . . We will repeal the excise tax on high-cost health insurance and find revenue to offset. . . will keep costs down by making premiums more affordable, reducing out-of-pocket expenses, and capping prescription drug costs. And we will fight against insurers trying to impose excessive premium increases.

Democrats will fight any attempts. . . to privatize, voucherize, or “phase out” Medicare as we know it. And we will oppose Republican plans to slash funding and block grant Medicaid and SNAP. . .

We will keep fighting until the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has been adopted in every state. . .

. . .we will make health equity a central part of our commitment to revitalizing communities left behind. . . all health care services should be culturally and linguistically appropriate, and that neither fear nor immigration status should be barriers. . .

This section was shortened from 507 to 272 words. For full text, see page 31 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Supporting Community Health Centers (p. 31)
We must renew and expand our commitment to Community Health Centers, as well as community mental health centers and family planning centers. These health centers provide critically important, community-based prevention and treatment in underserved communities, prevent unnecessary and expensive trips to emergency rooms, and are essential to the successful implementation of the ACA. We will fight for a comprehensive system of primary health care, including dental, mental health care, and low-cost prescription drugs by doubling of funding for federally qualified community health centers over the next decade, which currently serve 25 million people.

Democrats also know that one of the key ingredients to the success of these health centers is a well-supported and qualified workforce in community-based settings. We will fight to train and support this workforce, encourage providers to work with underserved populations through the National Health Service Corps, and create a comprehensive strategy to increase the pool of primary health care professionals.

Reducing Prescription Drug Costs (p. 32)
It is unacceptable that the United States pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. . . A lifesaving drug is no good if it is unaffordable. . . many drug companies are spending more on advertising than on research. The largest pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars per year in profits at higher margins compared to other industries while many stash their profits in offshore tax havens. Meanwhile, they charge Americans thousands of dollars for new drugs. . . Democrats are committed to investing in the research, development, and innovation that creates lifesaving drugs and lowers overall health costs. . .

We will crack down on price gouging. . . cap the amount Americans have to pay out-of-pocket every month. . . prohibit anti-competitive “pay for delay” deals that keep generic drugs off the market. . .  allow. . . to import prescription drugs from licensed pharmacies in Canada and other countries with appropriate safety protections. . . fight to make sure that Medicare will negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers.

This section was shortened from 224 to 177 words. For full text, see page 32 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Enabling Cutting-Edge Medical Research (p. 32)
Democrats believe we must accelerate the pace of medical progress, ensuring that we invest more in our scientists and give them the resources they need to invigorate our fundamental studies in the life sciences in a growing, stable, and predictable way. We must make progress against the full range of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, HIV and AIDS, cancer, and other diseases, especially chronic ones. We recognize the critical importance of a fully-funded National Institutes of Health to accelerate the pace of medical progress.
Combating Drug and Alcohol Addiction (p. 32)
We must confront the epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, specifically the opioid crisis. . .  by vastly expanding access to prevention and treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers. . . encouraging full recovery and integration into society and working to remove common barriers to gainful employment, housing, and education. We will. . . expand access to care for addiction services, and ensure that insurance coverage is equal to that for any other health conditions. We think it is time for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor, and state regulatory agencies to fully implement the protections of the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008. . .

We should also do more to educate our youth, as well as their families, teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends, to intervene early to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. We should help state and local leaders establish evidence-based, age-appropriate, and locally-tailored prevention programs. These programs include school-based drug education programs. . . community-based peer mentorship and leadership programs; and after-school activities that deter drug use and encourage life skills.

This section was shortened from 248 to 191 words. For full text, see page 32 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Treating Mental Health (p. 33)
We must treat mental health issues with the same care and seriousness that we treat issues of physical health, support a robust mental health workforce, and promote better integration of the behavioral and general health care systems. Recognizing that maintaining good mental health is critical to all people, including young people’s health and development, we will work with health professionals to ensure that all children have access to mental health care. We must also expand community-based treatment for substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions and fully enforce our parity law. And we should create a national initiative around suicide prevention across the lifespan—to move toward the HHS-promoted Zero Suicide commitment.
Supporting Those Living with Autism and Their Families (p. 33)
Democrats believe that our country must make supporting the millions of individuals with autism and
those diagnosed in the future and their families a priority. We will conduct a nationwide early screening
outreach campaign to ensure that all children, and in particular children from underserved backgrounds,
can get screened for autism. We will expand services and support for adults and individuals transitioning
into adulthood, including employment and housing assistance. And we will push states to require health
insurance coverage for autism services in private insurance plans as well as state marketplaces so that
people with autism are not denied care.
Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice (p. 33)
. . . We believe unequivocally. . . that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. . .  We believe that reproductive health is core to. . . people’s health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers. . .  We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn. . .  laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion. . . We condemn and will combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. We will defend the ACA, which extends. . . no-cost contraception. . .

We will address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services. . . We recognize that quality, affordable comprehensive health care, evidence-based sex education and a full range of family planning services help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.

And we. . . support a woman’s decision to have a child, including by ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, and by providing services during pregnancy and after the birth of a child. . . as well as protections for women against pregnancy discrimination. We are committed to creating a society where children are safe and can thrive. . . We recognize and support. . . civil structures that are essential to creating this. . .

This section was shortened from 314 to 243 words. For full text, see page 33 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Ensuring Long-Term Care, Services, and Supports (p. 34)
Our country faces a long-term care crisis that prevents too many seniors and people with disabilities from being able to live with dignity at home or in their communities. The vast majority of people who are aging or living with a disability want to do so at home, but face challenges finding and affording the support they need to do so. Programs that emphasize independence rather than institutionalization must be better structured to support them. Democrats will take steps to strengthen and expand the home care workforce, give seniors and people with disabilities access to quality, affordable long-term care, services, and supports, and ensure that all of these resources are readily available at home or in the community.
Protecting and Promoting Public Health (p. 34)
Investment in our nation’s crumbling public health infrastructure is critical to ensuring preparedness for emerging threats; for preventing disease, illness, and injury in communities; and for promoting good health and wellbeing. Inadequate access to public health services has a disparate impact on poor, rural, and minority communities. . . Democrats will fight for increased investments in public health to better address emerging threats and the needs across our country. . . will continue to oppose Republican attempts to cut public health services and funding. We will ensure adequate funding of public health education. . . as well as adequate funding of residency training programs in public health, preventive medicine, and its subspecialties.

We must take a number of proactive steps so that all Americans. . . have the opportunity to live full, healthy lives. . . Health equity among Americans remains elusive. . .We continue to see unacceptable differences in health outcomes by race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. A growing body of research demonstrates the link between social factors—such as poverty, unemployment, experience of discrimination, and housing instability—and poor health. Democrats will continue to pursue policies addressing these social factors and empowering communities to respond to their most pressing health needs.

This section was shortened from 271 to 203 words. For full text, see page 34 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Republican Party Platform

The Republican Platform has an overarching category addressing healthcare: Great American Families, Education, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice (p. 31-40).
Restoring Patient Control and Preserving Quality in Healthcare (p. 36)
Any honest agenda for improving healthcare must start with repeal of the dishonestly named Affordable Care Act of 2010: Obamacare. . .

We agree with the four dissenting judges of the Supreme Court: “In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.” It must be removed and replaced with an approach based on genuine competition, patient choice, excellent care, wellness, and timely access to treatment. . .

. . .We must recover the traditional patient-physician relationship based on mutual trust, informed consent, and confidentiality. . . we will reduce mandates and enable insurers and providers of care to increase healthcare options and contain costs. Our goal is to ensure that all Americans have improved access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, including those struggling with mental illness.

We will 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. . . that price millions of low-income families out of the insurance market. . . we propose to block grant Medicaid and other payments and to assist all patients. . . to obtain coverage in a robust consumer market. . . Obamacare. . . promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. . .

To ensure vigorous competition in healthcare. . . we will promote price transparency so consumers can know the cost of treatments before they agree to them. We will empower individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools in order to expand coverage to the uninsured. We believe that individuals with preexisting conditions who maintain continuous coverage should be protected from discrimination. . .

Consumer choice is the most powerful factor in healthcare reform. . . We propose to end tax discrimination against the individual purchase of insurance and allow consumers to buy insurance across state lines. . . We look to the growth of Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Accounts. . .

Our aging population must have access to safe and affordable care. . .  we will make homecare a priority in public policy and will implement programs to protect against elder abuse.

This section was shortened from 695 to 374 words. For full text, see page 36 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Protecting Individual Conscience in Healthcare (p. 37)
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, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and organizations, especially the faith-based groups which provide a major portion of care for the nation and the needy. We support the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase, or enroll in healthcare coverage consistent with their religious, moral, or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty. We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children. We support the right of parents to consent to medical treatment for their minor children and urge enactment of legislation that would require parental consent for their daughter to be transported across state lines for abortion. Providers should not be permitted to unilaterally withhold services because a patient’s life is deemed not worth living. American taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortion. As Democrats abandon this four decade-old bipartisan consensus, we call for codification of the Hyde Amendment and its application across the government, including Obamacare. We call for a permanent ban on federal funding and subsidies for abortion and healthcare plans that include abortion coverage.
Better Care and Lower Costs: Tort Reform (p. 37)
Medical malpractice lawsuits have ballooned the cost of healthcare for everyone by forcing physicians to practice defensive medicine through tests and treatments which otherwise might be optional. Rural America is especially affected as obstetricians, surgeons, and other providers move to urban settings or retire in the face of escalating insurance premiums. Many Republican Governors have advanced the legal reforms necessary to reverse that trend. We support state and federal legislation to cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, thereby relieving conscientious providers of burdens that are not rightly theirs and addressing a serious cause of higher medical bills.
Advancing Research and Development in Healthcare (p. 37)
. . .Federal and private investment in basic and applied biomedical research holds enormous promise, especially with diseases and disorders like autism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. . . Modern miracles involving genetics, the immune system, cures for deadly diseases, and more are in the research pipeline. This is the consequence of marrying significant investment, both public and private, with the world’s best talent. . .

. . .We call for expanded support for the stem cell research that now offers the greatest hope for many afflictions — through adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells — without the destruction of embryonic human life. We urge a ban on human cloning for research or reproduction, and a ban on the creation of, or experimentation on, human embryos for research. We applaud Congress’ ban on the FDA approval of research involving three-parent embryos. We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.

This section was shortened from 309 to 201 words. For full text, see page 37 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Putting Patients First: Reforming the FDA (p. 38)
. . .the continuously increasing burden of governmental regulation and red tape is taking its toll on our innovative companies, and their pipeline of new life-saving devices and drugs to our nation’s patients is slowing and diminishing. The FDA has slowly but relentlessly changed into an agency that more and more puts the public health at risk by delaying, chilling, and killing the development of new devices, drugs and biologics that can promote our lives and our health. The FDA needs leadership that can reform the agency for our century and fix the lack of predictability, consistency, transparency and efficiency at the agency. The FDA needs to return to its traditional emphasis on hard science and approving new breakthrough medicines. . . We pledge to restore the FDA to its position as the premier scientific health agency, focused on both promoting and protecting the public health in equal measure. . . We commend those states that have passed Right to Try legislation, allowing terminally ill patients the right to try investigational medicines not yet approved by the FDA. We urge Congress to pass federal legislation to give all Americans with terminal illnesses the right to try.

This section was shortened from 309 to 196 words. For full text, see page 38 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Advancing Americans with Disabilities (p. 38)
Under the last two Republican presidents, landmark civil rights legislation affirmed the inherent rights of persons with disabilities. Republicans want to support those rights by guaranteeing access to education and the tools necessary to compete in the mainstream of society. . .

Persons with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to be self-employed as the general population. To encourage their entrepreneurship, it makes sense to include them in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) certification program, which opens up federal contracting for emerging businesses. Any restructuring of the tax code should consider ways in which companies can benefit from the talent and energy of their disabled employees.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has opened up unprecedented opportunities. . . Republicans will lead in its reauthorization, as well as renewal of the Higher Education Act, which can offer students with disabilities increased access to the general curriculum. Our TIME Act (Transition to Integrated and Meaningful Employment) will modernize the Fair Labor Standards Act to encourage competitive employment for persons with disabilities. . .

We oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, including newborns, the elderly, and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society. . .

This section was shortened from 379 to 211 words. For full text, see page 38 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Combatting Drug Abuse (p. 40)
The progress made over the last three decades against drug abuse is eroding. . . In many jurisdictions, marijuana is virtually legalized despite its illegality under federal law. At the other end of the drug spectrum, heroin use nearly doubled from 2003 to 2013, while deaths from heroin have quadrupled. All this highlights the continuing conflicts and contradictions in public attitudes and public policy toward illegal substances. Congress and a new administration should consider the long-range implications of these trends for public health and safety and prepare to deal with the problematic consequences.

The misuse of prescription painkillers — opioids — is a related problem. . . With a quadrupling of both their sales and their overdose deaths, the opioid crisis is ravaging communities. . . Because over-prescription of drugs is such a large part of the problem, Republican legislation now allows Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans to limit patients to a single pharmacy. Congressional Republicans have also called upon the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure that no physician will be penalized for limiting opioid prescriptions. We look for expeditious agreement between the House and Senate on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which addresses the opioid epidemic from both the demand and supply sides of the problem.

This section was shortened from 249 to 211 words. For full text, see page 40 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.