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The 0.3 percent 2017 retiree COLA could trigger so-called “hold harmless” Medicare provision, which states that if the increase in a person’s Social Security benefit is not enough to cover the increase in the monthly Medicare Part B premium, their premium is frozen and the entire cost of the Medicare premium increase is shouldered by those not held harmless. Those excluded from the protection, about 30 percent of those in the program, include those who don’t get Social Security benefits, new enrollees, and those who pay higher premiums because of relatively high income. While those retired under FERS and CSRS Offset receive Social Security benefits and would be protected, “pure” CSRS retirees don’t get Social Security as part of their benefit; above half of them, around 700,000 people, would be hit by the higher premium (the rest receive a Social Security benefit due to earnings covered by that system). Those impacted could be compelled to pay substantially more a month for Part B, which many federal retirees take voluntarily even if they continue FEHBP coverage in retirement. Exactly how much more won’t be clear until Medicare announces its 2017 premium rates next month, but a recent projection by Medicare trustees put the potential 2017 premium at above $140 a month even if shared by all enrollees, leaving those not protected facing an increase above even that. Last year in a similar situation—where no COLA was paid for 2016 due to deflation in the measuring period—a budget agreement softened the impact on those subject to a higher Part B premium. The result was that they pay $121.80 monthly this year–nearly $40 a month less than they would have paid otherwise. Federal employee and retiree organizations already have started asking Congress to extend that to 2017. That can’t be addressed until Congress reconvenes after the elections, however.