U.S. REP. RON BARBER FIGHTS TO SAVE SENIORS FROM INCREASE IN HEALTH CARE COSTS
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today introduced legislation that will preserve the current tax deduction for medical expenses – addressing an issue brought to him by the Green Valley Community Coordinating Council.
Barber today introduced the Helping Families and Seniors Save on Health Care Act, which will prevent out-of-pocket medical costs from rising – especially for senior citizens. The bill addresses a concern raised first by a resident of Green Valley and then by the GVCCC, the governing organization for Green Valley.
“This piece of legislation is a direct result of the concerns of the people I represent and discussions with the people of Green Valley,” Barber said today. “The most important thing I can do is bring the voice of our community to Washington. In this case, that means protecting Southern Arizona seniors from rising health-care costs.”
Currently, taxpayers can take a federal income tax deduction for medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. As part of health care reform, this year that threshold is to be raised to 10 percent for taxpayers under age 65. In 2017, the increase also will apply to taxpayers 65 years of age and older.
But it is seniors who are most likely to have medical costs. Twice as many senior citizens use the medical expense deduction as the population at large. And seniors take an average annual deduction of $1,500.
On April 26, the GVCCC unanimously passed a resolution saying the provision of the Affordable Care Act would “be disproportionately borne by that ‘selective segment’ of the population that, via the ‘aging process,’ is already the victim of catastrophic non-reimbursable medical expenses.”
The inequity also was raised in letters to the Green Valley News and to Barber from Loren M. Thorson, a retired naval commander and 24-year member of the GVCCC. Thorson helped to push for the GVCCC resolution.
Barber’s legislation will repeal the increase in the threshold for deductable medical expenses for taxpayers of all ages.
Barber was not in Congress in March 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was voted on, but has long since said that it is not perfect.
Since he took office in June 2012, he has remained committed to supporting common-sense action to fix parts of the law that don’t work for Southern Arizona small businesses, seniors and the middle class.
Barber also is a co-sponsor of legislation to:
- Eliminate the tax on medical devices which threatens jobs and innovation;
- Repeal the annual tax on health insurance to protect families and small businesses from premium hikes;
- Repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board that could reduce Medicare spending without congressional oversight and hurt access to care for seniors.
Barber consistently has voted against full repeal of the Affordable Care Act since taking office, citing the importance of protecting coverage and benefits for thousands of individuals in Southern Arizona. Among those benefits are closing the donut hole for seniors, allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 and preventing people with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage.
Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber
Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District
(520) 881-3588 or (520) 904-5876