The Senate’s tax reform bill would make it easier for people to deduct medical expenses after a last-minute addition pushed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
A taxpayer currently can deduct medical expenses that reach 10 percent of their gross income. Under the change to the Senate bill pushed by Collins, the deduction threshold would lower to 7.5 percent.
Collins tweeted that the addition, which she sought to add as an amendment to be voted on the Senate floor, would help Americans dealing with chronic illnesses.
The deduction helps “people with high medical costs, particularly seniors & people with chronic conditions,” Collins tweeted. She added that 8.8 million Americans use the deduction, “half with incomes of $50,000 or less."
The Senate bill will include my amendment to reduce the threshold for deducting medical expenses, which helps people with high medical costs, particularly seniors & people with chronic conditions. 8.8 million Americans use this deduction, half with incomes of $50,000 or less.— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) December 1, 2017
The House bill would eliminate the medical expense deduction, while the new Senate version would expand it.
Collins has not announced that she will support the bill, but she said after a closed-door Republican conference meeting that they are making progress.
She also received a commitment from Senate GOP leadership to separately bring up two bills aimed at stabilizing Obamacare’s exchanges. She said the bills would help to nullify the impact of zeroing out the penalties for Obamacare’s individual mandate, which the Senate tax bill includes.
But Democrats and some experts contend that the bills, which include $4.5 billion in funding to help Obamacare insurers offset their highest medical claims, likely would not be enough to forestall double-digit premium increases and coverage losses expected from repealing the individual mandate.
Senate leadership included another provision from Collins to offset the elimination of the state and local tax deduction included in the bill. The new provision, which mimics a provision in the House-passed version, would allow a $10,000 property tax deduction to help blunt the impact of losing the deduction for state and local taxes, which particularly affects residents in high-tax states such as Maine and New York.
Even without Collins, the GOP has enough votes to pass the tax reform bill and is expected to vote on it later Friday.