Healthcare Medical Feed

In their initial tax reform bills, the House and Senate decided not to include any health care provisions so as not to muddy the tax code rewrite waters. Now, however, Senate leaders have changed their minds. Repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate has been added to the upper chamber's tax plan. While that does provide needed money maneuverability, it also could turn tax reform into a legislative mud pie mess. The House is still on track to pass its tax reform bill this evening has passed its tax reform bill, but things are much less settled in the Senate. A... Read more →


The tax dueling has officially begun. The Senate on Thursday, Nov. 9, released its answer to the House's H.R. 1, officially title the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. UPDATE, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017: The House passed H.R. 1. Prospects for the Senate's tax reform bill, however, are muddier. While resolving difference in the two doesn't demand quite as many steps as in the 10 Duel Commandments outlined in the still incredibly popular Broadway (and touring company) musical Hamilton, it's still going to be one of the biggest face-offs in recent Washington, D.C., legislative history. Here's a look at some of... Read more →


House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) get serious in discussing what Republicans say are the middle-class benefits in their latest proposal to rewrite the tax code. The most detailed plan yet was released Thursday, Nov. 2. (Screenshot of C-SPAN video; click image to watch clip.) Remember that Capitol Hill adage that all politics is local? It can be easily shifted to tax reform. Whether you're for or against a tax law change will depend in large part on how much it helps or hurt you. When it comes to the men and women who propose and/or make those changes, their votes... Read more →


UPDATE, Nov. 2: Good news. It looks like most of the Republican tax reform plan, according to the bill's legislative language, "shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017." That means we will close out 2017 under current tax law, so these tips still apply. I'm working on a post about the proposed tax changes and will get it up here on the ol' blog shortly. it's now published! My mind boggles at the number of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies that can be made from this collection! It's just a small part of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden's... Read more →


Welcome to Part 5 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to some medical tax provisions. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 tax returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 tax returns due next April. Lucille Ball in "I Love Lucy" via Giphy.com The only thing worse than being sick is having to pay for medical treatment. One remedy that could... Read more →


Image by Shawn Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons What's going on with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? It depends on where you're looking for answers. Federal lawmakers remain in a quandary over how to deal with the ACA, or as it's known (for now) Obamacare. The Internal Revenue Service, however, made it clear this week that it plans to follow the health care law's reporting requirements as long as they are officially on the books. That's a reversal of a prior IRS position. However, given the confusion with the law, both under its namesake president and since Donald J. Trump... Read more →


Cook County residents lined up last week to tell county commissioners what they thought about the board's proposed soda tax. (Photo by Hal Dardick via Twitter) Cook Cook County officials implemented a tax on sugary beverages this summer. That levy, which was designed to (1) promote healthier habits among Chicago-area residents, (2) raise more much needed money for the Illinois county or (3) both, has fizzled. On Wednesday, Oct. 11, county commissioners voted 15-2 to repeal the penny-per-ounce tax, which, like similar proposals, is usually referred to as a soda — or pop in the Midwest — tax. Collection of... Read more →


October marks the start for many companies of open season for employees' workplace benefits, many of which provide workers some nice tax savings. It's also a good month to make other tax-related moves. It's time to turn our attention to health care again. This time, though, it's not medical insurance via the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. Instead, October marks the beginning of open enrollment season for workplace-provided benefits at companies across the country. Decide now for next year: Open enrollment periods vary from company to company. Most run from two to four weeks for workers to evaluate their current benefits and... Read more →


Life is a carousel, at least for a while, for this youngster and her grandmother. Once play time is over, financially secure grandparents have some tax-favored ways they can help ftheir grandchildren. (Photo by Rob Bixby via Flickr Creative Commons) Happy Grandparents Day! If your pop-pop and mam-maw (insert your own personal and/or regional affectionate nicknames here) are still around, take some time to tell them how much you love and appreciate them. Most of the time, younger — and that's definitely a relative term — folk think of grandparents as ancient. In many cases, elderly grandparents (and parents) do... Read more →


Virginia GOP Rep. Thomas Garrett, sponsor of a legislative petition to force a House vote on a clean repeal of Obamacare without any replacement measure. (Screen shot from appearance on Fox News) Congress isn't meeting this month, but that hasn't stopped a group of conservative Republicans in recent days from devising a plan they hope will, as they've promised for seven years, repeal Obamacare. House Freedom Caucus members are looking to force a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act, known as the ACA or more (un)popularly Obamacare, and the health care law's related taxes. The erasure of the law,... Read more →


I’ve mentioned in few posts already this month that it’s hot. Here in Central Texas, we’re in a stretch of triple-digit temperatures that are breaking records every day. That’s why our pantry is full of Cokes — that’s Texan for any kind of soft drink — and bottled water, since I like the carbonated kind. The refrigerator also is stocked with juices and, of course, beer. Our increased liquid diet every summer means that we pay added sales taxes based on what beverages are in our grocery cart. Soft drinks are subject to Texas state and local sales taxes, but... Read more →


Shawn Campbell via Flickr Creative Commons As the health care battle on Capitol Hill continues, there's one thing upon which both side can agree. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect. No piece of legislation is. Just ask Republicans trying to craft a replacement for Obamacare, as the seven-year-old health care law is known. And just ask a California couple who now owe the Internal Revenue Service almost $13,000 because of miscalculated Obamacare advance premium payments. Premium tax credit help: The Walkers, a married California couple, got health care coverage in 2014 though one of the Golden State's insurance marketplaces.... Read more →


The Senate will get back to work next week crafting an Obamacare repeal-and-replace measure, an already difficult task made more problematic by the messages lawmakers got from their constituents over the July 4th holiday. There are many reasons, both political and practical, that devising a health care system for all of America is so complicated. One of the key ones is because we are so diverse. In health coverage's case, the diversity issue is generational. Source: Oliver Wyman and Fortune Knowledge Group analysis "For the past few years, healthcare companies and policymakers have been striving to craft consumer health strategies,... Read more →


Drug prices are one of the major concerns of all Americans. A group of Senators is calling for a new excise tax to penalize drug makers who dramatically increase their products' prices. Leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate today gave up on holding full vote this week on their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Supporters of the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), as well as similar Obamacare repeal efforts in the House, say their bills are part of the answer to, among other things, stopping the escalating price of medical care. Whether the GOP proposals will... Read more →


Here's a look at eight Affordable Care Act taxes that Republicans in both the House and Senate agree on eliminating. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), joined by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and a mostly hidden Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) held a press conference today to denounce as "meaner" their GOP Senate colleagues' version of health care reform to replace Obamacare. (Photo courtesy Sen. Schumer's Twitter account) The Senate today finally revealed its version of Obamacare repeal and replace, dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 or BCRA. The 142-page document, which Senate leadership is describing as... Read more →


Most Obamacare attention this week has been on the been on the revised Congressional Budget Office estimates that show the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would cause fewer people (only 23 million vs. 24 million) to lose coverage, but at a higher cost ($31 billion more than the March version of the bill) to Uncle Sam's bottom line. But at the same time, nuts and bolts work on the American Health Care Act, or AHCA as the Republican bill is known, also continued at the Congressional committee level. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) in March... Read more →


The House narrowly passed its Obamacare replacement measure this afternoon by a 217 to 213 vote. Now we await Senate action on the GOP bill. That means there's plenty more debate to come before any flip from President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the GOP's American Health Care Act (AHCA). The House voted to repeal Obamacare this afternoon, but we will be waiting for a while before any final replacement of the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Kay Bell) But both Democrats and Republicans do agree on one thing. The Upper Chamber's action won't be any time soon So... Read more →


Californians who just can't kick their nicotine habit are now paying substantially more for their addiction. Effective April 1, the Golden State's tobacco tax went up by $2 per a pack of cigarettes. The state's tax on smoking now is $2.87 per pack. And while that is indeed a massive jump, it's just catching up on years of a low tax rate. It's been 20 years since California increased its cigarette tax. The tax increase, the final tax amount and the years it's taken for California to get here each were in the running for this week's By the Numbers... Read more →


Most high-income investors last were likely a little bummed last week when the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act failed. It didn't have anything to do with their personal opinions on Obamacare or health care in general. It meant that the Net Investment Income Tax, or NIIT, remains on the books. This 3.8 percent surtax is assessed on capital gains, dividends, interest, and other passive income earned by single investors making more than $200,000 a year or $250,000 if married filing jointly. It was one of the many ACA-related taxes that would have been repealed if the GOP... Read more →


Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, have increased in popularity since they were created in 2004. More than 20 million people now have these particular medical savings plans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey last fall. KFF's analysis also found that the average account balance grew by more than a third last year to more than $1,800. Growth of HSAs could speed up under a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Various GOP alternatives for Obamacare call for expansion of HSAs. High deductibles required: HSAs not only offer a way for account owners to pay medical bills, they... Read more →