Rep. John Lewis' Family Act of 2011 Helps Families Facing Pain of Infertility
Washington, DC-Today Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would establish a tax credit to improve access to medical treatment for infertility, a problem affecting millions of Americans. The Family Act of 2011 (HR 3522) is the first tax credit introduced in Congress to support those seeking to build a family through medical treatment for infertility. This important legislation offers a maximum lifetime tax credit of $13,360 to families who want children but must build their families through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Cost is one of the biggest barriers infertile families face when they confront IVF as an option. The treatments are expensive and are typically paid for out-of-pocket without the support of health insurance. Most health plans will not pay for the treatments. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has calculated the average price of one in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle in the U.S. to be $12,400. Only 15 states have passed laws requiring that insurance policies cover or offer to cover some level of infertility treatment.
The tax credit maximum is a lifetime cap, and it does not include expenses already covered by an individual's insurance plan or already claimed within a schedule of itemized deductions for healthcare expenses in a tax year. The amount of the credit diminishes incrementally for families with annual incomes over $182,500 and reduces to zero for families with incomes exceeding $222,520.
"Infertility is far more common than people believe. In fact there are nearly 200,000 people diagnosed with infertility in Georgia alone," said Representative Lewis. "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. 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. That's not right, not fair or just. I believe that access to decent health care should be a fundamental right, not a privilege."
The FAMILY Act of 2011 is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, LIVESTRONG and RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association. The Senate companion to this bill was introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) earlier this year.