AARP Nebraska is asking the state’s congressional delegation to make changes to the tax reform bill.
Several parts of the bill would be harmful to senior citizens, according to the group with nearly 200,000 members in the state.
Jina Ragland, associate state director for advocacy and outreach, says one of the biggest concerns is the medical expense deduction, which 56,000 Nebraska seniors claimed in 2015.
“With that being repealed, there would be many, many Nebraskans who would be at risk for a higher tax being placed on them,” Ragland tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Right now, the IRS allows you to deduct qualified medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of adjusted gross income.
Ragland says the 2015 out-of-pocket medical expense for older Nebraskans averaged $11,500, which is a lot of money for people on a fixed income.
“The House bill repeals the medical expense deduction,” she explains. “The Senate bill keeps the deduction at 10 percent. It (the Senate bill) lowers it to 7.5 percent for two years.”
She says repealing the deduction would increase taxes on some senior citizens.
AARP also is urging Congress to prevent $25 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare next year due to proposed tax cuts.
The cuts would be triggered by a law designed to keep the deficit in check when revenue doesn’t immediately offset a deficit increase.
Ragland says senior citizens will be hurt by the $1.5 trillion deficit the tax plan creates.
“Which would trickle down to providers, the reimbursement being lower,” she says. “Our biggest concern is access to care issues for Medicare beneficiaries to see providers on a timely basis as well as just to see them in general.”
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:37]