Senators push for senior tax hike prevention

By Ashley Bunton -

Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman have introduced bipartisan legislation that they say will help seniors address health care costs that are expected to rise at the end of the year.

The Senior Tax Hike Prevention Act is legislation that would assure that seniors maintain a medical expense tax deduction at the current rate of 7.5 percent of income for another two years. The income threshold will raise to 10 percent on Jan. 1 if no action is taken, which would raise health care costs for seniors, according to information released by both senators.

“What does that mean?” said Portman in remarks on the Senate floor this week. “It means a lot of middle income seniors are not going to be able to deduct their medical expenses because they exceed seven-and-a-half percent but they don’t exceed 10 percent of their income.”

Portman said there are about 10 million Americans who use this deduction every year and most of them are seniors who make less than the average national income and are on a fixed income.

He said data from the Internal Revenue Service shows that the seniors who use this deduction tend to be the oldest, least healthy and disproportionately women.

“The average Medicare beneficiary spent more than $6,000 a year in out-of-pocket health care expenses in the last year we have information for. The result is some 8.3 million seniors rely on Medicaid in addition to Medicare and while this billion dollar tax increase we’re talking about today is intended to pay for part of the president’s health care law, it could actually in the long run cause more strain on an already struggling Medicaid system,” said Portman.

The legislation is endorsed by the AARP.

“Seniors living on a fixed income shouldn’t have to choose between going to the doctor or the grocery store,” said Brown. “Letting seniors deduct the cost of going to the doctor and buying expensive prescription drugs from their taxes helps relieve the burden of high health care costs by putting more money back in their pockets. I’m grateful to Senator Portman for working together on behalf of our seniors.”

By Ashley Bunton

Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton

Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton