Democratic Party Platform of 1980



The Carter Administration and the Congress have worked closely together to improve the health care provided to all Americans. In many vital areas, there has been clear progress.

The United States spent over $200 billion for health care in 1979. Despite these high expenditures and although we possess some of the finest hospitals and health professionals in the world, millions of Americans have little or no access to health care services. Incredibly, costs are predicted to soar to $400 billion by 1984, without improvement in either access to care or coverage of costs. Health care costs already consume ten cents of every dollar spent for goods and services.

The answer to runaway medical costs is not, as Republicans propose, to pour money into a wasteful and inefficient system. The answer is not to cut back on benefits for the elderly and eligibility for the poor. The answer is to enact a comprehensive, universal national health insurance plan.

To meet the goals of a program that will control costs and provide health coverage to every American, the Democratic Party pledges to seek a national health insurance program with the following features:

–Universal coverage, without regard to place of employment, sex, age, marital status, or any other factor;–Comprehensive medical benefits, including preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, health maintenance and rehabilitation services, and complete coverage of the costs of catastrophic illness or injury;–Aggressive cost containment provisions along with provisions to strengthen competitive forces in the market place;–Enhancement of the quality of care;–An end to the widespread use of exclusions that disadvantage women and that charge proportionately higher premiums to women;–Reform of the health care system, including encouragement of health maintenance organizations and other alternative delivery systems;–Building on the private health care delivery sector and preservation of the physician-patient relationship;–Provision for maximum individual choice of physician, other provider, and insurer;–Maintenance of the private insurance industry with appropriate public regulation;–Significant administrative and organizational roles for state and local government in setting policy and in resource planning;–Redistribution of services to ensure access to health care in underserved areas;–Improvement of non-institutional health services so that elderly, disabled, and other patients may remain in their homes and out of institutions; and

Child Health Assurance Program—We must continue to emphasize preventive health care for all citizens. As part of this commitment, we call for the enactment of legislation during the 96th Congress to expand the current Medicaid program and make an additional 5 million low-income children eligible for Medicaid benefits and an additional 200,000 low-income pregnant women eligible for prenatal and postnatal care.

Mental Health Systems Act—We must enact legislation to help the mentally ill, based on the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Mental Health. The legislation should focus on deinstitutionalization of the chronically mentally ill, increased program flexibility at the local level, prevention, and the development of community-based mental health services. It is imperative that there be ongoing federal funding for the community-based mental health centers established under the 1963 Mental Health Act and that sufficient federal funding be provided for adequate staffing. We also endorse increased federal funding for ongoing training of mental health personnel in public facilities.

In the 1980s we must move beyond these existing health care initiatives and tackle other problems as well.

Long-Term Care—We must develop a new policy on long-term care for our elderly and disabled populations that controls the cost explosion and at the same time provides more humane care. We must establish alternatives to the present provisions for long-term care, including adequate support systems and physical and occupational therapy in the home arid the community, to make it unnecessary to institutionalize people who could lead productive lives at home.

We must support legislation to expand home health care services under Medicare and other health programs. Visits from doctors, nurses and other health personnel are a cost-effective and necessary program for the elderly who often cannot travel to medical facilities. Without home health services, many elderly citizens would be forced to give up their homes and shift their lives to institutions.

Multilingual Needs—We must support the utilization of bilingual interpreters in English-Spanish and other appropriate languages at federal and state-supported health care facilities. In addition, we support broader, more comprehensive health care for migrants.

Health Care Personnel—This nation must maintain an adequate supply of health professionals and personnel. Particular emphasis should be given to programs which educate nurses and other health professionals and related personnel, especially for the traditionally underserved rural and inner city areas.

The rising cost of education in health fields bars many who wish to enter these fields from doing so. In order to expand representation in the health professions of traditionally underrepresented groups, we support programs of financial assistance such as capitation grants. These programs must increase the presence of men and minorities in nursing, and must be targeted toward women and minorities in other health professions.

Minority and Women Health Care Professionals—We recognize the need for a significant increase in the number of minority and women health care professionals. We are committed to placing greater emphasis on enrollment and retention of minorities and women in medical schools and related health education professional programs.

We are also committed to placing a greater emphasis on medical research and services to meet the needs of minorities, women and children.

Reproductive Rights—We fully recognize the religious and ethical concerns which many Americans have about abortion. We also recognize the belief of many Americans that a woman has a right to choose whether and when to have a child.

The Democratic Party supports the 1973 Supreme Court decision on abortion rights as the law of the land and opposes any constitutional amendment to restrict or overturn that decision.

Furthermore, we pledge to support the right to be free of environmental and worksite hazards to reproductive health of women and men.

We further pledge to work for programs to improve the health and safety of pregnancy and childbirth, including adequate prenatal care, family planning, counseling, and services with special care to the needs of the poor, the isolated, the rural, and the young.

Financially Distressed Public Hospitals—Frequently, the only sources of medical care for much of the inner city population is the public general hospital. The ever-increasing costs of providing high quality hospital services and the lack of insurance coverage for many of the patients served have jeopardized the financial stability of these institutions. Immediate support is required for financially distressed public hospitals that provide a major community service in urban and rural areas.

In underserved areas where public hospitals have already been closed because of financial difficulty, we must explore methods for returning the needed hospitals to active service.

We must develop financial stability for these hospitals. Our approach should stress system reforms to assure that more primary medical care is provided in free-standing community centers, while the hospital is used for referral services and hospitalization.

Medicaid Reimbursement—The Democratic Party supports programs to make the Medicaid reimbursement formulae more equitable.

Unnecessary Prescriptions—We must reduce unnecessary prescribing of drugs and guarantee the quality and safety of products that reach the market through improved approval procedures.


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Chicago: "Health," Democratic Party Platform of 1980 in Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.10-11 11. Original Sources, accessed December 1, 2023,

MLA: . "Health." Democratic Party Platform of 1980, in Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.10-11, page 11. Original Sources. 1 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: , 'Health' in Democratic Party Platform of 1980. cited in , Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.10-11, pp.11. Original Sources, retrieved 1 December 2023, from