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Kaiser study: Privatized Medicare will raise rates for Florida seniors

Nearly six in 10 Medicare recipients would pay higher premiums under a hypothetical privatized system, with striking regional differences leading to big hikes in some states and counties, a study released Monday finds.

The report by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation immediately became ammunition in the presidential campaign.

Republican Mitt Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, have proposed changing Medicare to a "premium support" system dominated by private plans that are paid a fixed amount by the government. President Barack Obama says replacing the current open-ended Medicare benefit would shift costs to seniors.

Romney's approach would mirror the difference between traditional workplace pensions and modern-day 401(k) plans, in which the employer contribution is limited. While Medicare financing wouldn't be as heavy a lift for taxpayers, the risk is that retirees could end up paying more if medical costs rise.

In the senior-rich political swing state of Florida, the hypothetical plan modeled by Kaiser would boost premiums for traditional Medicare by more than $200 a month on average. In Nevada, another competitive state, 50 percent of seniors would face additional monthly premiums of $100 or more. That's part of a new pattern of regional disparities that would emerge from overhauling Medicare's payment system, the report said. More here.