Study: Premium Support Plan Could Raise Seniors' Costs In Many Areas Of Country

A Kaiser Family Foundation study released Monday found that almost six in 10 Medicare beneficiaries would pay higher premiums under a hypothetical privatized system similar to that proposed by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. 

Kaiser Health News: Study Finds Premium Support Plan Could Raise Medicare Premiums In Many Parts Of Country
The type of proposal championed by Republicans to overhaul Medicare by giving beneficiaries a fixed amount of money to purchase insurance could lead to significant increases in premium costs in some parts of the country, according to a new study (Rau, 10/15). 

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Study: Privatized Medicare Would Hike Premiums For Most; Rise In Florida Could Exceed $200
Nearly six in 10 Medicare recipients would pay higher premiums under a hypothetical privatized system along the lines of what Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has proposed, according to a study released Monday. The report by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation also found striking regional differences that could lead to big premium hikes in some states and counties. That finding instantly made it ammunition in the presidential campaign (10/15).

Politico: Kaiser Study: Medicare Costs Would Have Risen With Premium Support
A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that if a premium support plan had been put in place in 2010, more than half of Medicare beneficiaries would face a rise in premiums if they stayed with their current plan — including traditional Medicare. The study, released Monday, doesn’t examine a specific proposal — and it posits 2010 as a start date, even though most of the plans being debated wouldn’t start for a number of years (Smith, 10/15).

Bloomberg: Medicare Premiums Would Rise For 59% With Ryan Plan
Elderly people in Florida would have paid more than $200 extra for traditional Medicare if a system similar to Paul Ryan's proposed overhaul of the program was in place in 2010, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.  Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, wants to transform Medicare into a "premium support" system in which beneficiaries get a fixed payment from the government for their insurance, rather than guaranteed benefits. Such a plan would lead to wide variations in Medicare costs across the country, according to the study today by the nonprofit Kaiser group (Wayne, 10/15).

CQ HealthBeat:  Kaiser Study Finds Higher Costs For Seniors In Premium Support, But GOP Objects
A market-based, privatized Medicare system is at the heart of the presidential candidates’ battle over the system’s future, and a Kaiser Family Foundation study out Monday bolstered Democrats’ contention that shifting to premium support would mean higher costs for many seniors. But Republicans pushed back hard, saying that the nonpartisan study by one of the nation’s most respected health research organizations was little more than an academic exercise injected into the ongoing debate. Republicans also said that the analysis didn’t make any attempt to quantify how much budget savings there would be and how Medicare's projected insolvency would be forestalled if a premium support system were adopted (Norman, 10/15).

The Hill: Kaiser Study: Medicare Vouchers Would Mean Higher Premium Costs
Converting Medicare to a voucher system would raise premiums for more than half of seniors, assuming they keep their current healthcare plans, according to a new study. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that about 6 in 10 Medicare beneficiaries would see higher premiums under a generic "premium-support" model, assuming their plan preferences remain the same. This would include more than half of seniors enrolled in traditional Medicare and nearly all of those enrolled in Medicare Advantage, Kaiser said (Viebeck, 10/15).

Modern Healthcare: Premium-Support Model Would Have Been Costlier For Most Medicare Beneficiaries: Study
About 59% of Medicare beneficiaries would have paid higher Medicare premiums in 2010 under a premium-support system if they had remained in their same plan and if such a model had been implemented, a new Kaiser Family Foundation study (PDF) concludes. In their nearly 50-page analysis, authors Gretchen Jacobson, Tricia Neuman and Anthony Damico examined the premium-support approach that connects federal payments to the second-lowest cost plan offered in an area, or traditional Medicare—whichever is lower. The study acknowledged that while this model was included in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) fiscal 2013 budget and embraced by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, it "should not be interpreted as an analysis of any particular proposal, including the Romney-Ryan proposal" because that analysis would require more policy details, and it would also require certain assumptions about future shifts in factors such as demographics, spending and enrollment (Zigmond, 10/15).

Time Magazine: The Romney-Ryan Plan For Medicare: What It Means For Seniors
The non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation is out with a new report showing that an overhaul of Medicare, of the sort the Romney-Ryan campaign favors, might increase costs for seniors. The Obama campaign wasted no time in seizing on the KFF report as proof that the GOP candidate's "irresponsible" plan to turn Medicare in a voucher system would have "devastating consequences" for seniors. A spokeswoman for the Romney campaign fired back a statement saying that the GOP candidate's plan would include "no increase in out-of-pocket costs from today's Medicare." The Romney camp also cited a disclaimer in the KFF report that said it should not be taken as an analysis of any particular proposal, including the Romney-Ryan plan for how to reform Medicare. So what to believe?...Here's the bottom line: Medicare, which covers about 50 million people, has huge leverage to negotiate prices. It also has lower administrative costs than private insurance companies (Pickert, 10/16).

In other Medicare news - 

Marketplace: Checking Up On Medicare
Pretend Medicare is a patient. He decides to go see a doctor because he is stressed. He is worried about his future. "Well, just like any other person who is 47-years-old, you are always concerned about what’s going to happen," says Jon Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. There are other stressors -- everyone is talking about Medicare, there is a lot of weight on his shoulders. According to Oberlander, more than 50 million people rely on Medicare, and that number is expected to grow to 80 million over the next two decades. "Its costs are going up, and that’s both because more beneficiaries are joining the program as the baby boomers age into Medicare, and also due to the rising costs of medical care," he says (Gura, 10/16).

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