Opinion: How the House GOP Tax Bill Would Drive Us to Penury

 Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Evangeline Canonizado Buell, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Photo courtesy of Evangeline Canonizado Buell)

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Evangeline Canonizado Buell, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Photo courtesy of Evangeline Canonizado Buell)

On November 10, 2017, I was invited to be with Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee to speak at a nationally televised press conference at a fire station in San Francisco. It was about the GOP Tax Reform. I spoke against the elimination of the tax deduction of medical expenses for senior citizens, giving my personal story.

I’m 85. My husband, Bill, is 88. We have lived for the past four and a half years at Piedmont Gardens in Oakland (California), which is a retirement community that also provides health care for seniors.

Two years ago, my husband developed both Alzheimer’s and dementia. As a result, the cost of our care almost tripled, to almost $17,000 a month, or over $200,000 a year. We can’t pay that much out of our retirement income alone, which is about half that amount. So we have been dipping each month into our savings, which isn’t a very large sum.


I don’t claim to understand the reasons why House Republicans want to change the tax law. I do know, however, that not only does it rob us of our money, it also destroys our dignity as human beings.

Fortunately, under the current tax law, we have been able to claim most of our medical expenses as a deduction on our income tax. That doesn’t cover the whole cost of our health care -- it just slows down the drain on our savings. Without the deduction, we would soon become penniless, surviving on Medicaid and charity.

We would also be required to pay more federal tax, even though we don’t have the money to do it.

Bill and I are not alone. I know that about eight and a half million Americans claimed the medical expenses deduction on their tax last year. Millions of them are like Bill and me, getting older and sicker. But millions are also middle-aged, and even younger, in poor health and with enormous medical expenses.

Being able to claim this deduction doesn’t mean that people are made whole again. It just means that they can survive longer.

I don’t claim to understand the reasons why House Republicans want to change the tax law. I do know, however, that the House Republican tax bill not only robs us of our money, it destroys our dignity as human beings. This is an act of cruelty beyond my powers to understand.