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Family Act of 2011 Takes a Positive Step Forward
The Family Act of 2011 took another step forward at the end of November 2011 when Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Known as HR 3522, the companion legislation (S 965) was introduced to the Senate in May of 2011 by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) as a bill to establish a tax credit for in vitro fertilization (IVF) if it is indicated as a fertility treatment.
What Is the Family Act of 2011, HR 3522?
Successful passage of the HR 3522 legislation would help reduce the cost barriers to fertility treatments and help many people with infertility build their families. One in eight U.S. couples of childbearing age is diagnosed with infertility (approximately 7.3 million people), according to RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association. The Family Act would also apply to treatments to preserve fertility for cancer patients, such as egg freezing.
"Infertility is far more common than people believe," says Rep. Lewis. "In fact, there are nearly 200,000 people diagnosed with infertility in Georgia alone. For too many of those people, the cost of treatment will silence their dreams of having children forever. Insurance coverage is rare, so what should be a personal, intimate decision between couples is reduced to a financial calculation."
Currently, only 15 states have legislation requiring that insurance policies cover or offer to cover some level of infertility treatment. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the average cost of one IVF cycle in the United State is $12,400. (Many couples require multiple IVF cycles to achieve a successful pregnancy and birth.) The majority of couples experiencing infertility are paying for expensive fertility treatments out-of-pocket. The tax credit is modeled after an existing tax credit available to taxpayers who incur adoption expenses.
“Getting the Family Act of 2011 introduced in the House is a crucial next step toward passing this important legislation so that the tax credit becomes a reality," says Barb Collura, executive director of RESOLVE. "Now we need to get bipartisan support so that the infertility community is acknowledged and our concerns are being addressed."
Fast Facts about the Family Act
- The legislation provides a maximum lifetime tax credit of $13,360 to families who want children, but must use IVF.
- To claim the credit, taxpayers must have been diagnosed as infertile by a licensed physician with an indicated course of treatment as IVF.
- The tax credit does not include expenses already covered by an individual's insurance plan or already claimed within a schedule of itemized deductions for health care expenses in a tax year.
- Eligible treatments include medical procedures, laboratory charges, professional charges and other necessary costs when a patient undergoes IVF treatment.
- The tax credit is available in part or in whole on an annual basis until the taxpayer reaches the aggregated limit of $13,360.
- The credit would be available to taxpayers who have an adjusted gross income of less than $182,500 and phases out for those whose incomes reach $222,520.
- There is a 50/50 cost share inherent in the credit, so eligible taxpayers may claim the credit for up to one-half of their expenses.
Who Supports The Family Act of 2011?
Introduced by Rep. Lewis, the bill is co-sponsored by Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.), William Keating (D-Mass.) and Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.). It was first introduced in the Senate by Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY), and It is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, LIVESTRONG, RESOLVE and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
"ASRM is grateful to Representatives Lewis, DeLauro, Neal and Keating for recognizing the barriers that confront those needing medical assistance in order to build their families and welcomes the opportunity to work with them to advance this legislation," says Dolores Lamb, Ph.D., president of the ASRM.
"Without this credit, access to all the advances of modern medicine and the ability to bear children, despite physical impediments, becomes, for average Americans, a luxury defined by the size of their wallets or the digits in their zip code," Rep. Lewis says. "That's not right, fair or just. I believe that access to decent health care should be a fundamental right, not a privilege."
What Can I Do?
Get involved! Advocates urge you to:
- Send a letter to your U.S. Senator.
- Send a letter to your Representative.
- Follow up letters with a phone call.
- Schedule a meeting with your U.S. Representatives and Representatives or their staff.
- Submit letters to your local newspaper about The Family Act of 2011, S 965/HR 3522.
- Blog about The Family Act of 2011, S 965/HR 3522.
- Tell your friends and fans on Facebook and your followers on Twitter about The Family Act of 2011, S 965/HR 3522.
Supporters are hoping the nature of the bill will help it cross party lines to a successful passage. "This is a pro-family bill that should have the support of both Democrats and Republicans," Collura says. "If you have contacts with Republican members in the House or Senate, please get in touch with RESOLVE.”
"Wanting to have a family is not a partisan issue, and I am hopeful that there will be bipartisan support for this legislation," Rep. Lewis says. "As with any tax credit, there are costs involved, and in this highly charged political climate, this will create obstacles to passing this bill. However, I am confident that people will recognize the fundamental rights involved here and will ultimately support this legislation. Members need to hear from their constituents about what this bill will mean for them."