Forget about the Democrat's ad that shows a Ryan-looking person throwing Grandma off a cliff. Instead, there should be an ad showing the Democrats throwing Medicare off a cliff. Because, that's what's really happening. First, and foremost, ObamaCare steals $716 billion from the Medicare trust to pay for non-senior ObamaCare expenses. Secondly, to control costs, ObamaCare establishes something called an IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board) who will try to control costs by rationing how much care seniors will be able to get and when. The bottom line is that Medicare will start going broke in 2024.
Now, enter Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney. Each of them understand that Medicare is going broke because the cash outlays are exceeding the program's sources of revenues; with this situation only getting worse as the country ages due to the retirement of the baby boomers. Like Social Security, there just aren't enough younger people paying into the system in order to cover the high cost of providing healthcare to citizens in their later years. Essentially, Medicare is a program that is completely trapped into providing healthcare to the most costly group of patients: This nation's elder population. So, the trick to saving Medicare is to create a system in which there is a lot cash input from younger participants to help offset the high cost of providing care for our nation's elders.
Understanding this, both Ryan and Romney have independently decided that a "voucher system" would push the cost of caring for seniors out of the federal domain and shove it into the private sector by inviting private insurance companies into the Medicare program. In essence, future seniors would be given the option of either traditional Medicare or a voucher; something that the "throwing Granny off the cliff" ad doesn't say.
If they elect to stay with traditional Medicare, then, they will have all the benefits and, make no mistake, the weakness of the current system. However, if they opt to go with the voucher system, they will be able to go into the free marketplace and insurers will compete for their business. The participants can then pick and chose the type of coverage they want and how much they are willing to pay for it. If the voucher participants can find good health care at a cost lower than the amount of the voucher, they can pocket the savings. If they want more of an upscale health plan, they pay the difference. But, the big thing about the voucher system is that the high cost of payouts for the healthcare of the voucher system participants will rest with the private sector and no longer with the federal government vis a vis the Medicare trust.
In essence, free-market competition will save Medicare because costs (and, I think fraud) will be controlled by the private sector and because those private sector insurers will have a healthcare insured base of both young and old. Something that Medicare is unable to achieve.
For a concise understanding of current Medicare spending and financing, please refer to this Kaiser Family Foundation Report: http://www.kff.org/medicare/upload/7305_03.pdf