FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tax Bill Provides Relief To Consumers Needing Health And Long-Term Care Insurance Coverage
CONTACT: Richard Coorsh
The following statement was released today by
Chip Kahn, President of the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA):
The tax bill reported out of the House-Senate
conference committee offers consumers much-need and long overdue tax relief that would
help millions better afford the cost of private health and long-term care insurance. This
tax relief is vitally important because it addresses affordability the primary
obstacle confronting most consumers seeking health and long-term care coverage. Also, we
are pleased that there appears to be an emerging bipartisan Congressional consensus around
the wisdom of using the tax code to help provide coverage to uninsured Americans.
However, the tax bill contains two
ill-conceived provisions that may allow Medicare beneficiaries to qualify for a tax
deduction for the cost of drugs. The first provision would allow a deduction for the cost
of certain drugs that once were available only by prescription, and that over the last two
years have become available over the counter. It is unrealistic to assume that all
consumers know which drugs fall into this category. Furthermore, even if consumers did
know, it is unlikely that they would have saved their receipts for over-the-counter
medications. At best, this provision is a political placebo.
The second provision would provide Medicare beneficiaries with a conditional deduction for insurance premiums for prescription drug coverage. However, one of the conditions could require a mandate that all private Medicare Supplemental ("Medigap") plans include prescription drug coverage. HIAA steadfastly opposes this provision because of its potential to saddle seniors with Medigap with a significant premium increase. This in turn would force many of them to drop their Medigap coverage, upon which they rely to pay for all of the expenses not covered by Medicare.