Vote Explanation for H.R. 3590 — Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act

I opposed H.R. 3590, the Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act, when it came before the House for a vote because it is an unfunded tax cut that will increase our federal deficit and is another attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite my strong opposition, this bill passed the House by a vote of 261 to 147, with several Republicans voting against the bill and some Democrats voting for it.

My strongest opposition to this bill is because it is unpaid for. This legislation would repeal a provision of the ACA that is set to raise the standard for out-of-pocket medical expenses that are not taxed. For those who are under 65, this standard is already set to 10 percent, meaning that if you spend 10 percent of your income on out-of-pocket medical expenses, you will not be taxed on that money. However, for those over 65, the standard is set to increase from 7.5 percent to 10 percent in 2017, and this legislation would repeal that provision of the ACA and maintain the current standard.

The limit on of out-of-pocket expenses is a critical component of ensuring that the ACA remains financially viable. This change would not benefit all older Americans equally, as evidenced in a study by the Joint Committee on Taxation, which found that keeping the current 7.5 percent cap would disproportionately benefit those with higher incomes — an estimated 66 percent of those who would benefit have incomes of $100,000 or greater. Moreover, this tax break would come at a significant ticket price: the Congressional Budget Office estimates it would increase the federal deficit by $32.7 billion over ten years.

H.R. 3590 is a step in the wrong direction. It would increase health care spending, increase the federal deficit, and do nothing to improve the affordability of health care for middle-class families. I continue to strongly oppose this bill and expect that the President will veto it, if it reaches his desk.