Health

Who loses out if the medical deduction disappears?

Following the money trail is pretty easy with doctors, but nurses are another story.
Following the money trail is pretty easy with doctors, but nurses are another story.
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While the GOP tax plan has come under fire on several fronts, one proposal getting less attention would do away with the medical expense deduction. People like Dale Berman of Burbank say it's helped them a lot.

Berman, 60, says he’s had Crohn’s Disease since he was 15.

"I have to take a lot of over the counter drugs and prescription drugs [so] I can be somewhat normal," he said.  

Those prescriptions add up, and the chronic inflammatory bowel disease affects his ability to work, too.

"When you get older the disease takes a toll on your body," said Berman. "So it’s not easy."

Eliminating the medical deduction would increase his tax bill by at least $1,000, he said.

The deduction only kicks in if an individual spends more than 10 percent of his income on medical expenses. 

"It’s probably fair to say that Californians numbering in the high hundreds of thousands benefit from the federal medical expenses deduction each year," said Scott Graves, director of research at the California Budget and Policy Center.

That includes "the poor and sick," said Katherine Pratt, a professor Loyola Law School. "And in particular, people with a chronic illness."

Because the GOP’s bill expands the standard deduction, more people will choose not to itemize at all, noted Kim Rueben, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

"However," she said, "for the people who have large medical expenses, it will increase their tax bill."