Giving seniors a choice of insurance plans, including traditional Medicare, would encourage competition and help hold down the medical inflation rate, he argued.
Ryan's remarks elicited an animated blend of boos and some cheers, sounds that sometimes competed as the congressman from Wisconsin spoke on, unfazed.
Obama addressed the same crowd Friday via satellite. He said the Romney-Ryan approach would undermine a program millions of Americans hold in high regard. "The problem is that insurance companies, once they’re getting vouchers, they’re really good at recruiting the healthier, younger Medicare recipients," Obama argued. "The entire infrastructure of traditional Medicare ends up collapsing, which means that all seniors at some point end up being at the mercy of the insurance companies."
Their dueling visions set the parameters of a battle that will continue between now and Election Day.
The Republican ticket argues that the way to save Medicare is to introduce more competition, and that Obama's path puts the program on a course toward weakness and insolvency. "Time and again, ... he's put his own job security over your retirement security," Ryan said.
The president, in his most recent weekly address to the nation, said he proposes "reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health-care system and reining in insurance companies – reforms that won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits."