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Democratic Leaders on July 21, unveiled the “Social Security COLA Protection Act of 2004,” new federal legislation to protect seniors’ Social Security benefits.

This bill would ensure that no more than 25 percent of a Social Security recipient’s annual cost-of-living increase, or COLA, could be taken away by increases in Medicare premiums. According to a new report by Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee, the new Republican Medicare bill could eat up a large piece of future Social Security COLA’s and for some, even reduce the size of their Social Security check.

There are 4.6 million African-Americans who currently receive Social Security. And without Social Security, the poverty rate for African-American seniors would increase from 21 percent to 60 percent.

”The prescription drug bill passed last year has many problems, but at the very least, you would think the Republicans would have the decency to put a cap on how much of the COLA the Medicare prescription drug premium could eat up,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “But it didn’t do that, because the Republicans had other priorities – and they were not to help America’s seniors.”

The new report concluded that when the new drug benefit is in place in 2007, almost one-quarter of Social Security beneficiaries would spend more than 25 percent of their COLA to pay for the increases in Medicare premiums. By 2014, that number will increase to 64 percent.

the Democratic bill would ensure that no more than 25 percent of a beneficiary’s annual COLA could be taken away by increases in Medicare premiums, including the existing “Part B” premium for outpatient care and the new “Part D” premium for prescription drugs.

”We have long known that the Republican Medicare prescription drug law is a fraud on America’s seniors and that it fails to reduce prescription drug prices, “ Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Member of the House Ways and Means Committee said. “Today, we learned that Republicans’ refusal to control drug prices will lead to escalating Medicare premiums and could mean cuts in seniors’ Social Security COLA’s. That’s unacceptable.

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