On November 2, House Republican lawmakers introduced a bill to reform the U.S. tax code. This lengthy piece of legislation makes many changes to our tax policies; two provisions in particular could affect access to health care and drug development.
Under current law, individuals are allowed to deduct qualified medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of their income. (Long-term care, for example, can be costly and surpass this threshold.) The reform bill would eliminate this deduction. A recent report from the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan agency that conducts policy studies for Congress, shows that many people making $20,000 to $200,000 a year take advantage of this deduction. If it ends, low- and middle-income Americans could face difficulty obtaining the care they need.
The legislation also would terminate the orphan drug tax credit. Pharmaceutical companies receive this credit if they develop therapies to treat rare diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people. (Because treatments for rare diseases don't generate large profits, manufacturers can be hesitant to make them.) Many of the parkinsonisms, including multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy, Lewy body dementia and corticobasal degeneration, are considered rare diseases and could benefit from this tax credit. Eliminating it could hinder the creation of effective treatments for Americans living with these conditions.
Legislators have indicated they would like to move quickly on the tax reform bill. Stay tuned to the Foundation blog for updates on the process and its impact on the Parkinson's community.