Cantwell, Collins, McSally, Sinema Lead Bipartisan Push for Legislation to Help Americans with High Healthcare Costs

More than 200,000 Washingtonians rely on the Medical Expense Deduction to lower health care costs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) sent a letter Monday to Senate leadership urging them to extend the reduction in the threshold for the medical expense deduction in any end-of-year funding package. Without action from Congress, millions of Americans with high medical costs will see a tax increase when they next file their taxes.

In 2017 and 2018, Americans with medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) were able to deduct these expenses when filing their taxes. However, the 7.5% income threshold will increase to 10% if an extension is not enacted before the end of the year, reducing the amount that can be deducted from yearly taxes. If allowed to take effect, that change could mean millions of Americans would have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than they have in previous years.

Emphasizing the “strong bipartisan and bicameral consensus” on the issue, the senators wrote to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Chairman Chuck Grassley, and Ranking Member Ron Wyden: “This extension is low-cost but has an incredibly high impact. About 3.6 million taxpayers, including 1.4 million who are ages 65 and over, will benefit from the medical expense deduction remaining at the 7.5 percent income threshold.”

“This deduction provides needed financial relief for Americans with high medical expenses, particularly seniors and individuals with disabilities or serious medical conditions,” the senators continued. “As Congress works to complete action on a number of must-pass items before the end of the year, we urge you to extend the current medical expense deduction for future tax years.”

The medical expense deduction is a vital tax provision for those who have pre-existing or chronic medical conditions, experience unexpected illnesses or injuries, or face costs for long-term care services that are not covered by insurance.

Support for the medical expense deduction is widespread in the medical community, including from organizations such as the AARP, American Heart Association, National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, LeadingAge, Fight Colorectal Cancer, Medicare Rights Center, FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Triage Cancer, Family Voices, Well Spouse Association, American Health Care Association, National Center for Assisted Living, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Alliance for Aging Research. These groups have written a coalition letter in support of extending the 7.5% threshold.

Earlier this year, Senators Cantwell and Collins introduced the Medical Expense Savings Act, which would provide financial relief for households that spend more than 7.5% of their income on medical expenses by allowing them to continue to deduct these costs from their tax bills. The legislation was endorsed by the AARP.

The full letter is available here.