Letters to the Editor

GOP?tax measure will hurt senior citizens

To the Journal editor:

America’s tax payers 65 years and older are largely unaware of the negative effect of the GOP’s tax proposals in the U.S. Congress.

Both the U.S. House’s version of the tax legislation which passed on November 16th on a vote of 227-206 and the U.S. Senate’s version eliminate the medical expense deduction. For the past 70 years, Americans with high health care costs have been able to deduct medical expenses on Schedule A as itemized deductions.

This deduction is especially important for persons over 65 who are more likely to experience costly, unexpected catastrophic illnesses or long-term care admissions. The problem is that Medicare has significant gaps as it does not cover all medical bills and only covers a small slice of nursing home bills. 52 percent of Americans turning 65 will need long-term care which has an average annual cost of $97,000. Being able to deduct such a cost helps middle-income seniors to financially survive.

Without the deduction, a middle income senior with taxable income of $35,000-$60,000 will have to use his or her entire income to cover a $97,000 nursing home bill-thereby leaving no income to cover his or her tax bill

The tax proposals’ second negative effect on seniors was reported by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The CBO projects that the enormous cost of the tax bills would prompt immediate, automatic, and ongoing spending cuts to Medicare-$25 billion in 2018 alone (press release dated Nov. 15, 2017 of Medicare Advocacy.org). The third negative impact is contained only in the GOP Senate’s version which is the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate.

According to the CBO, the end of the ACA will lead to 13 million losing health coverage which disproportionately affect people over 50 who are not yet on Medicare (Medicare Advocacy.org). Even though this tax bill hurts seniors in the Upper Peninsula, U.S. Rep Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, voted for it. There is still time to contact him and our U.S. Senators to ask them to oppose these unwise proposals.