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Brown And Portman Back Bill Preventing Tax Hike On Seniors' Health Expenses

Adrian Ma

A tax law that lets seniors deduct more of their medical expenses expired earlier this year. Now both of Ohio's senators are trying to bring it back. 

In show of bipartisanship, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Sen. Rob Portman are backing a bill they're calling the "Seniors Tax Hike Prevention Act."

The bill, introduced earlier this month, would extend a tax deduction put in place under the Affordable Care Act. Speaking to reporters in Cleveland on Monday, Brown said he and Portman agree that the deduction should be preserved, even if they don't agree on Obamacare.

"He wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I wanted to keep it in place,” Brown said. "On this, we wanted to stand together."

For the past few years, seniors who spent more than 7.5 percent of their income on out-of-pocket medical expenses could claim the deduction, saving anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars on their tax bills. But that provision expired in January of this year, automatically raising the threshold of eligibility to 10 percent. 

That means some seniors could end up paying more. Advocates say that would be especially burdensome for seniors living on a fixed-income. 

Wynne Antonio, 74, is a retired teacher. She said the provision saved her about $2,000 last year.

"I had about $21,000 dollars in medical bills," Antonio said. "So it was a big hit, and having that deduction really helped."

Brown said the bill must pass before the end of this year for it to apply to seniors filing taxes in 2018.