Congress has moved closer to turning President Trump’s tax bill into law with both the Senate and House passing different versions of it. Now a conference committee process begins where lawmakers from both sides attempt to reconcile their differences and create a mutually agreed-upon bill for the American people. One important debate will include handling a deduction that many Americans take for high medical expenses. This deduction is repealed by the House, but expanded by the Senate. Below is a brief summary of how the changes presented in the tax bill might affect disabled individuals and how the autistic community has reacted.
Important Changes in Trump’s Tax Bill Affecting the Disabled Community
Current drafts of this bill propose:
- An elimination of the individual mandate to have health insurance, leaving 13 million individuals without coverage;
- A raise in the federal deficit by $1.5 million, making future cuts to Medicaid inevitable;
- Cuts in Medicaid and healthcare funding by 1.3-1.9 trillion;
- Cuts in services that many disabled people depend on (food stamps, special education, Medicare);
- Eliminating tax deductions many disabled people take (one potential elimination includes the deduction for out-of-pocket medical expenses exceeding 10% of a person’s income);
- Weakening or eliminating a tax credit for pharmaceutical companies that develop drugs for “orphan conditions” (such as cystic fibrosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease);
- Eliminating tax credits to small business to help them meet legal requirements to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.
The Autistic Community is Speaking Out
Autistic individuals are warning the public about the potential damages the tax bill will bring to the disabled community in the United States.
“There are these specific deductions, but the broader problem is that this bill is part of a larger strategy of removing sources of revenue to the federal government,” Ne’eman says that less government revenue means less money for programs that affect disabled people’s lives more widely (most significantly, Medicaid). Ne’eman explains that many are likely to want to keep Medicaid in the future, but complain about a lack of money. He said, “The money isn’t there because of moments like here and now when we have a choice and we are reducing revenue.”
Julia Bascom, Executive Director of ASAN, told Disability Scoop “The proposed tax cuts will create enormous pressure on the federal budget. Both the administration and congressional leadership have made clear that they plan to alleviate that pressure by slashing Medicaid, including (home and community-based) waiver services, and other basic programs that allow people with disabilities to live good lives in our community.”
For anyone interested in making a public statement along with ASAN, visit ASAN’s Action Alert page which provides a script for calling your local members of Congress and voicing your concerns with the tax bill.
Also, if you have opinions/explanations about how current versions of the tax bill might help individuals with disabilities, please leave a polite comment.
Sources/Additional Reading Regarding the Tax Bill and the Autistic Community