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Congress, fix tax code that punishes low-wage workers, families

Currently, the code taxes more than five million low-wage workers not raising children at home into — or deeper into — poverty.

The Capitol Building as seen in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

New data from the U.S. Census shows that 38 million Americans lived below the poverty line last year. Sadly, the federal tax code is part of the problem.

Currently, the code taxes more than 5 million low-wage workers not raising children at home into — or deeper into — poverty. And, millions of children in low-income families are left out of the full Child Tax Credit.

Congress could have fixed those problems in the 2017 tax law, but chose not to.

Congress is considering another tax bill this fall with lots of benefits for businesses.

Workers and families must not be ignored again. The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are pro-work, pro-family tax credits for people working in low-wage jobs.

Together, they lifted 7.9 million Americans above the poverty line in 2018. Expanding the EITC and CTC would ensure our tax code supports low-income Americans struggling to make ends meet.

I urge our members of Congress to uphold the principle that no business tax breaks should be extended or expanded without also expanding the EITC and CTC in the same bill.

Matt Geer, Willow Springs

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Protect seniors’ right to Medicare home health care

Millions of seniors across the United States rely on Medicare home health to remain in their homes and receive necessary skilled health care services.

However, a new Medicare payment model threatens to restrict access to care for America’s most vulnerable seniors who depend on these services.

If implemented, this payment model will cut Medicare home health by 8.01% — equaling more than $1.298 billion in 2020 alone — based purely on assumptions about changes in provider behaviors under the new system.

Fortunately, Congress has recently taken action to protect home health by introducing the bipartisan Home Health Payment Innovation Act (S.433 & H.R. 2573).

Now that our lawmakers have returned to Washington following the summer recess, I hope they will take swift action to pass this vital legislation to protect our state’s seniors.

Kathryn Hodak, Darien