AARP Hawai‘i Leaders Press Congress on Vital Issues
AARP Hawai‘i State Director Barbara Kim Stanton and State Volunteer President Gerry Silva visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, to urge their elected representatives to make permanent the 7.5% medical expense tax deduction threshold, protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and support family caregivers by joining the Assisting Caregivers Today (ACT) Caucus.
AARP visited the offices of Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono (D–Hawai‘i) and Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawai‘i) to discuss these and other issues important to older Americans.
“Our kūpuna have always been a high priority for Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation and we thank them for their support,” said Stanton. “We urged Congress to take action this year on a number of remaining issues that matter to our AARP Hawai‘i members and their families and again, all of the Hawai‘i delegation said they would support kūpuna and their families.”
Some details about these important issues raised with members of the House and Senate:
- Medical Expense Deduction: The IRS currently allows taxpayers to deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of a person’s annual income. However, beginning Jan. 1, 2019, taxpayers will only be able to deduct medical expenses that exceed 10%t of their income. Nearly 75% of people using the medical expense deduction are age 50 or older living with a chronic illness and who have high health care costs. AARP is urging Congress to make the 7.5% threshold permanent to help protect the approximately 8.8 million Americans with high medical costs who need this deduction each year.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): The Farm bill, which includes SNAP, is expected to be reauthorized before it expires on September 30. SNAP is the nation’s largest domestic nutrition assistance program, providing a vital lifeline to almost 45 million low-income Americans, including nearly 5 million Americans age 60-plus. SNAP not only reduces hunger, it leads to improved health and reduced health care costs. AARP opposes funding cuts and recommends expanding access to SNAP benefits. AARP is also urging Congress to reject expanding SNAP’s work requirements, especially for workers age 50-plus who often take longer than younger workers to find new permanent employment.
- Assisting Caregivers Today (ACT) Caucus: Approximately 40 million family caregivers provide an estimated $470 billion worth of unpaid care to a family member or other loved one. In Hawai‘i, 154,000 family caregivers provide unpaid care valued at $2.1 billion annually. The ACT Caucus is a forum for our Congressional leaders to exchange ideas that can lead to solutions that will help family caregivers. We thank Sen. Schatz for joining the caucus previously and thank Sen. Hirono and Reps. Hanabusa and Gabbard for agreeing today to become members of the ACT Caucus.
AARP Hawai‘i volunteers hope that these issues important to older Americans will resonate clearly with our elected officials in the Senate and the House as the midterm elections approach.