That was true of Ryan's 2011 proposal. But as an increasing number of healthcare experts on both sides of the policy debate have pointed out for some time, Ryan added some safeguards for seniors and set a less drastic spending cap in his latest iteration, released in March 2012 as part of his 2013 budget. (The relative moderation reflects the influence of Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who jointly authored with Ryan a Medicare reform plan released in December 2011. That plan included protections for seniors -- most notably, preserving "traditional Medicare" as an option -- that Ryan's subsequent budget weakened but did not dispose of entirely.) The CBO analysis of Ryan's 2013 budget declined to estimate to what extent it would shift costs to seniors, probably because the plan leaves unclear who will foot the bill if the costs of the benchmark plans offered in the envisioned Medicare exchanges exceed the annual growth cap Ryan imposes.
In an interview with Time's Michael Scherer published today, Obama qualified his long-standing talking point regarding that cost shift:
I’m prepared to look at smart reforms on Medicare. But there are things I won’t do, and this is part of the debate we’re having in this election. I do not think it is a good idea to set up Medicare as a voucher system in which seniors are spending up to $6,000 more out of pocket. That was the original proposal Congressman Ryan put forward. And there is still a strong impulse I think among some Republicans for that kind of approach.