Is Senate candidate Dave McCormick’s in vitro fertilization proposal feasible for families?

A few days after the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade In delayed June, Dave McCormick published an ad intended to present his stance on abortion.

The Republican Senate candidate criticized an ad by his rival for the Pennsylvania high-ranking seat, incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), in which McCormick said he supported a total abortion ban.

The attack ad was false, said McCormick, who promised voters that if elected, he would support exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother — a departure from his position during his first Senate campaign in 2022, when McCormick said he supported banning abortions except when the mother’s life was in danger. He now says he supports exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother and has said he opposes a nationwide ban.

That same day, McCormick unveiled a plan that aimed to shift the conversation about reproductive rights away from abortion—not only pledging to oppose any attempts to restrict in vitro fertilization, but also proposing a immense, refundable tax credit for people seeking fertility treatments.

Under the plan, Americans would be able to get a refundable tax credit of $15,000 over two tax years in their lifetime. The tax years do not have to be consecutive.

“This way we are making this potentially life-changing therapy available to more families who quite frankly cannot have children right now,” McCormick said.

The proposal comes as Republicans grapple with their reproductive health messaging. In the two years since the federal government repealed abortion rights, Democrats have effectively used state-level restrictions on the procedure to win votes.

The left has insisted that abortion is just the beginning, and that access to contraception and fertility treatments is just the beginning — a theory that seemed vindicated in February, when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created by in vitro fertilization are children, a ruling that halted in vitro fertilization in the state.

Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have frequently stated their support for the measure, but McCormick took that rhetoric a step further, proposing tax breaks to fund it.

Casey, who was first elected to the Senate in 2006, said he was open to the tax break but noted that Republicans have consistently opposed Democratic policies aimed at protecting access to in vitro fertilization and contraception.

“If he were in the Senate, he would side with those who vote against it,” Casey said in an interview.

Others who have worked on similar legislation say tax credits are not the best way to enhance access to infertility treatment because of the high upfront costs of treatment. and political barriers.

Here’s what you need to know about McCormick’s proposal and the debate surrounding it.

Has such a solution been proposed or enacted elsewhere?

Infertility treatments are already tax-deductible, meaning patients can reduce their taxes by the amount of money they spent on treatment. But the credit would provide an even bigger incentive by providing a refund of up to that amount to patients even if they didn’t owe taxes.

A McCormick campaign spokeswoman said she was not aware of a similar bill nationally or that it had been introduced at the state level.

McCormick, however, is not the first politician to recommend a tax break for in vitro fertilization.

Resolve, a nonprofit that advocates for people with infertility, pushed for a similar credit about a decade ago. Barbara Collura, the organization’s CEO, said she worked with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) and the delayed Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.) to promote the policy but abandoned it after a few years when it failed to gain traction.

Is IVF tax relief really possible?

McCormick said in a statement to The Inquirer last week will seek to ensure the potential tax relief is included in tax policy discussions next year.

“Tax policy will be a top priority for Congress in 2025 as the Trump tax cuts expire,” McCormick said. “…as a Pennsylvania senator, I will work to advance this proposal and other pro-family policies, such as doubling the child tax credit.”

Collura, who is working to make the existing adoption tax credit refundable, said the main obstacle to implementing the policy is cost.

Even on bipartisan issues like adoption, Collura said cost has gotten in the way of her advocacy. She said it’s even harder on in vitro fertilization, which has historically been more partisan and would be more pricey because more Americans would employ it.

“I’m afraid it’s going to be very difficult to try to get this bill through,” Collura said, adding that McCormick will need a very good strategy to get the proposal through the House and Senate budget committees.

Collura said that when Resolve sought the tax break, the bills it drafted never even got a vote, let alone a committee or floor vote.

The organization also moved away from the concept of tax breaks as the best way to enhance access to infertility treatment.

Is an IVF tax credit the best way to expand access?

Nancy Hirschmann, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said McCormick’s proposal may not expand access to education as much as he hopes.

“It’s a pretty inefficient way to support IVF because you have to save up $30,000 up front and then recoup it a few months later,” she said.

In recent years, Resolve has advocated for state and national legislation that would expand insurance coverage to include infertility treatments.

The organization also advocates for federal protections for providers and patients, and recently backed a package of bills from Senate Democrats that sought to protect access to infertility treatments. The package was blocked by Senate Republicans last month.

“We need real health insurance,” Collura said, noting that Congress should start by expanding it to members of the military and federal workers.

While the organization supports tax breaks, Collura said it is not their most urgent priority and urged politicians like McCormick to contact the organization.

“$15,000 does a lot when you’re doing foster care. It doesn’t do a lot when you’re doing in vitro fertilization,” she said. “You’ve got a real economic mountain to climb.”

According to Resolve, 13 states have approved health insurance policies at the state level. But the federal government has not taken similar action.

McCormick’s campaign officials said they are open to other solutions that would aid expand access.

“We believed that a tax exemption was the cleanest and most effective way to help struggling couples, but we are open to any good ideas to promote in vitro fertilization,” McCormick spokeswoman Elizabeth Gregory said in an email.

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