(CNN) – In their first joint interview as the 2012 Republican ticket, Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan on Sunday addressed questions about Ryan's Medicare proposal, which at least one critic says would "end Medicare as we know it" and others have speculated could present Romney electoral challenges in senior citizen-rich Florida.
Ryan, however, has said major changes are necessary to rein in levels of federal spending on the program which premium payments and payroll taxes cannot cover. He used a personal example to make the point in his Sunday interview.
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"My mom is a Medicare senior in Florida," he said on CBS. "Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises to them that they've organized their retirements around."
"In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger. And we think these reforms are good reforms. That have bipartisan origins. They started from the Clinton commission in the late '90s," he continued.
On Sunday, Romney campaign aide Brendan Buck said Ryan would campaign in central Florida next weekend, a rebuff to critics who said the vice presidential candidate was skipping Romney's stops in Florida this week to avoid questions about his Medicare proposals from senior citizens there.
Romney has not made Ryan's plan a part of his platform in the 2012 campaign, and in a set of campaign talking points obtained by CNN on Saturday, surrogates are reminded, "Of course they aren't going to have the same view on every issue."
A suggested answer to questions about how Ryan will play among independent voters read "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a bipartisan plan to strengthen Medicare by giving future seniors the choice between traditional Medicare and a variety of private plans."
In the interview, Romney turned the Medicare question into a criticism of President Barack Obama, repeating a line he uses on the campaign trail.
"There's only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare," he said. "What Paul Ryan and I have talked about is saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it's there for current seniors."
The $716 billion figure appears to come from a Congressional Budget Office evaluation from July 24, which measured the impact of repealing the health care overhaul known as "Obamacare."
The report says that under the repeal measure, "Spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013-2022 period."
Those spending increases would be a result of more spending on hospital and medical insurance, offset by a decrease in prescription drug coverage.
The letter also notes that the projected $716 billion increase in Medicare spending if the measure is repealed does not signal a $716 billion decrease if the measure stays in place - which is Romney's argument.
"For various reasons discussed elsewhere in this document, the estimated budgetary effects of repealing the ACA...are not equivalent to an estimate of the budgetary effects of the ACA with the signs reversed," the report says.
Romney, in his remarks, stressed that his plan would ensure "No changes, by the way, for current seniors, or those nearing retirement."
"But looking for young people down the road and saying, 'We're going to give you a bigger choice.' In America, the nature of this country has been giving people more freedom, more choices. That's how we make Medicare work down the road," he continued.
Romney announced Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and a seven-term member of Congress from Wisconsin, as his vice presidential pick on Saturday at a campaign rally in Virginia.
CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report
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Right, we're just "expanding" medicare. Right. This is an old story like the block grants given to the States during the Reagan years: Step 1: we're replacing Medicare by giving you the money and YOU get the choice of where you put it. Step 2: "We can't afford to increase it for the rate of inflation so you will have to make up the difference. Step 3: We had to give big tax cuts to millionaires so now we can't afford it so we're cutting the grants. Plus you should really be taking care of this yourself anyway Step 4 Sorry, we have no money, so it's now ended. Voila!! End of Medicare, and a nice big tax cut for millionaires. Another transfer of wealth from the middle class to the 1%. You're on your own. Romney and Ryan firmly believe that any American that makes more than a Chinese pesant is a leech. They are HORRIBLE for the middle class. If you're a millionaire then vote for them – they are your guys. If you are in the middle class you'd better hold on to your wallett because they are coming for it. Plus, really, are Seniors going to fall for the arguement of "don't worry, you can keep it, it's your children and grandchildren we're planning on throwing to the wolves."
The Ryan plan REPLACES THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COMMITMENT TO ITS CITIZENS.......with a VOUCHER to cover a PRIVATE COMPANY PLAN.....and that VOUCHER WONT PAY FOR THE COST OF THE INSURANCE............would you invest in a company that specializes in HEALTH INSURANCE FOR 85 YEAR OLDS?...........and makes NO PROFIT?.....................of course not
Saving Medicare by getting rid of it???
Do you trust the Gop bafoons party , no ,no no ,no ,no no !!!WWE !!
I like Ryan's idea about Medicare and Medicaid. Let's be realistic, the programs consume more than they provide. Reform is needed whether we like it or not. The ACA is a total nightmare but it does have some good points. I think this is the same thing. As a country, we need to bring our fiscal house in order if we expect to survive. It will be painful for EVERYONE but it needs to be done. Also, since when is giving seniors more options (for their medical care) a bad thing? The Ryan plan is only saying... here are some choices. Pick one. We (the govt) will still pay for it.
I can understand that Ryan doesn't want to be the younger generation paying for the baby boom bubble medicare and social security tab. He'd rather throw them off the cliff. Here's your voucher, but it won't keep up with rising costs. You can keep your medicare, but it won't pay any more than the voucher. And, by the way Social Security is broke. What you thought we'd put taxes back up to pay for it? Too bad so sad.
NO Romney Hood for the RICH 1%. Healthcare for current and future retirees is significant to the stability of the country. GOPs, Please stop yelling sociallist medicine, while you are rich enough to have your healthcare guaranteed for life. Many middle class citizens are just one serious sickness away in the family to become bankcrupt and health insurance companies are waiting no time to drop their coverage so that they can max their profits. Should the US gov allow HMOs to choose $$ over human lives? Is that the value of USA we want to show to the world? Sick of GOP !
If this announcement doesn't have you running to the polls then nothing will. Romney/Ryan are a big danger to the middle class. They will gut social programs without a thought or care for the people who rely on them for survival. They believe in the trickle down theory. In didn't work under the horrible leadership of Ronald Regan and it still won't work. President Obama needs to re-elected with a new congress that is not out to obstruct and really gives a care about the people who elected them to do a job. Mitch McConnell, the troll, John Boehner, the crying tan man and Eric Cantor, the scarecrow should all be given their walking papers. They have been the biggest obstructions to getting the economy turned around and getting people back to work. Mitt Romney told that monumental lie that he would create twelve million jobs in his first term. What a liar? He will say anything at all to get elect. Don't fall for his lies and propoganda.
One answer: universal healthcare provided by the government and the same (top-notch) for everybody! Other countries have it, why not US (the most powerful country in the world)? Those country spend even less than the US now because prevention avoids that people get treated too late, when it is more expensive to cure them (think obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease)!!
Paul Ryan "has spent most of his adult life in Congress with little business or executive experience to speak of." – Reuters.
trex, so you are repeating the democrats inaccurate talking points. The way we are going under this administration and democrats there will be no more SS or MEDICARE, everyone will be on Obamacare, and get treatment after you wait for hours or you have PRIVATE insurance, you will work untill you die or you put money away now. Ryan at least has a plan not like the dem/lib who only talk but have nothing, except tax the rich.
"The letter also notes that the projected $716 billion increase in Medicare spending if the measure is repealed does not signal a $716 billion decrease if the measure stays in place – which is Romney's argument."
WOW CNN REPORTING FACTS. Romney's still a joke.
I am a coder in the healthfield and I see the problems now that patients have with medicare seniors please stick together and do not allow these people to change or take away your benefits. Iv'e been paying into the system since I was twenty now I'm in my forties and I really worried about what Romney & Ryan are going to do please do your research. More & more doctors and hospitals are finding ways not to accept medicare patients, due to the reimbursement rate what do you think they will do with vouchers if given please do your homework, and leave our retirement benefits alone. Thanks