Comparing Romney and Ryan's ideas on Medicare

(CBS News) Paul Ryan's selection for the presumptive GOP ticket reset the presidential race and made Medicare one of the major issues in the campaign. There is no state in the country that relies as heavily on Medicare as Florida, and so you can be sure this is where the Medicare battle will be most fierce.

"We want to make sure we preserve and protect Medicare," Mitt Romney said on the campaign trail recently.

Romney has hit that message hard since he announced Paul Ryan as his running mate in five speeches across four states -- all part of an effort to deflect attacks that Ryan's ideas to reform Medicare will in fact cost seniors more.

With Medicare expected to go bust by 2024, Ryan argued in Iowa Monday that Washington has a responsibility to fix it for future generations.

"We need to stop spending money we don't have. President Obama has given us four years of trillion-dollar-plus deficits," Ryan said.

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (L) and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) talk on their campaign bus before attending a campaign rally at the Waukesha County Expo Center on August 12, 2012, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
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In 2011, Ryan introduced his first budget of spending cuts and sweeping changes to Medicare. The plan would have eliminated Medicare's traditional government-run insurance program and given seniors vouchers to buy health insurance. A congressional Budget office estimates government savings in this plan would be $30 billion over the next nine years. But it would cost Medicare patients an average of $6,400 in out-of-pocket expenses.

After the plan failed to get a single Democratic vote, Ryan made key changes, working with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat. The revised plan gives seniors a choice between the current system and the voucher program, and it would not affect people who are over 55. The cost to the average Medicare patient are less than his previous plan, an average of $800.

According to Romney's website, that revised plan "almost precisely mirrors Mitt's ideas".

At a recent campaign stop, Romney said: "My plan for Medicare is very similar to his plan for Medicare, which is do not change the program for current retirees or near retirees, but do not do what the president has done and that is to cut $700 billion out of the current program."

There are still some differences between Romney and Ryan. Romney, for example, would administer Medicare differently; he would still have the government pay insurers directly, instead of giving seniors a voucher to buy their own insurance.

Watch the original "60 Minutes" broadcast of Romney and Ryan's first interview after the VP announcement below


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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

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