National coverage of the Presidential campaign last night and this morning includes a great deal of coverage of Paul Ryan's Medicare plan - and much of it supports the Obama campaign's negative assessments of his proposals. In particular, media accounts repeatedly state that under Ryan's plan, seniors would pay more out of pocket for coverage that would be less comprehensive. For instance, on ABC World News, Jake Tapper reported that "independent analysts say [Ryan's] limited vouchers would mean seniors would have to pay thousands more out of their own pocket," and Jan Crawford, on the CBS Evening News, said Ryan's original plan would have "cost Medicare patients an average of $6,400 in out-of-pocket expenses."
Analysts from across the political spectrum argued that, for better or worse, Romney will have to defend Ryan's budget plan for the rest of the campaign. Time's Mark Halperin, on MSNBC's Hardball, said Romney "owns the Ryan bill and...attempts to distance" himself from it are "pretty much meaningless...because...the differences between what he would like to do and the House budget are minor." Charles Krauthammer, on Fox News' Special Report, said Romney "has embraced the Ryan plan" and "should run on it," because "if you play defense between now and election day, you are going to lose." Also on MSNBC's Hardball, the Huffington Post's Howard Fineman said, "If Mitt Romney is now going to spend the next week or so selectively distancing himself from Paul Ryan on various issues, he's going to end up with the worst of all possible worlds."
Adam Nagourney, in a front-page piece for the New York Times titled, "Medicare Rises As Prime Election Issue," reports, "Florida quickly emerged on Monday as a critical test of the nationwide Republican gamble that concerns over the mounting federal debt can blunt potent Democratic attacks on conservative proposals to revamp Medicare." The Times adds, "As Mr. Romney campaigned through Florida on Monday, Democrats greeted him with a barrage of assaults, including a Web advertisement featuring worried elderly voters in this battleground state. The campaign took on a more heated air as President Obama suggested in Iowa that the Republican ticket would 'end Medicare as we know it,' a warning echoed in North Carolina by" Vice President Biden.
USA Today reports that in Iowa Monday, President Obama "took aim at Ryan's Medicare proposal, telling the crowd it would be 'the end of Medicare as we know it,'" and David Axelrod "told The Des Moines Register that the Romney/Ryan plans would put Medicare into a 'death spiral.'" USA today notes that Ryan's plan "would allow those 55 and younger to opt out of" Medicare, but "would not change the program for seniors currently enrolled."
On NBC Nightly News, Chuck Todd reported that "instead of a government insurance guarantee for health care coverage, Ryan's plan calls for the government to give seniors money to buy their own insurance." Todd noted that the President "has been attacking Ryan's plan for months." Obama was shown saying, "He plans to turn Medicare into a voucher program." Todd added that Republicans "are pushing back by attacking the President for what they say were his cuts to Medicare in 2010 to pay for his healthcare overhaul," but, according to Todd, "Medicare was never cut. The cost of the program continues to rise, just at a slower pace." Todd went on to report that "as for Romney, who has voiced support for Ryan's plan, he distanced himself from it last night."
On ABC World News, Jake Tapper said Ryan "has proposed slowing the growth of Medicare and providing future retirees with something like a voucher to pay for private health insurance." According to Tapper, "Independent analysts say limited vouchers would mean seniors would have to pay thousands more out of their own pocket," but the Romney campaign "insists these changes would not impact today's seniors or those close to retirement and that such changes are needed for the program to survive."