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Rheumatology Leaders Urge Congress to Protect Tax Exempt Status for Graduate Student Tuition & Support Continuous Health Insurance Coverage in Tax Bills

Provisions in House and Senate tax reform bills could reduce incentives for medical research efforts, cause fewer Americans to maintain health insurance coverage

ATLANTA – The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) today expressed concerns with a provision of the House tax bill passed on November 16 that would repeal the tax-exempt status for graduate student tuition waivers, and a provision included in the Senate tax bill that would repeal the individual health insurance mandate.

“The House of Representatives’ proposal to require graduate students to pay taxes on their tuition waivers could strike a devastating blow to medical research, particularly in specialties like rheumatology,” said ACR President David Daikh, MD, PhD. “If forced to pay taxes on these waivers, we are concerned the small stipends many graduate students receive will not be enough to cover both their living expenses and the additional tax liability. This could prevent many students from starting or continuing graduate studies and thereby decrease the pool of researchers available to advance medical research efforts.”

Additionally, the Senate proposal to repeal the insurance mandate could cause millions of Americans to become uninsured. The ACR recommends that all Americans be covered by continuous health insurance that encourages high quality care for chronic arthritis and rheumatic diseases. 

“Effective management of rheumatic diseases requires early detection, prompt initiation of therapy, lifetime disease management, and, in some cases, aggressive pharmacologic therapy to help patients preserve their professional and personal quality of life,” said Daikh. “The absence of health insurance often creates an impediment to successfully treating patients and increases their risk of flares, disability and developing additional comorbidities. We encourage Congress to reconsider both these provisions and their impact on patients.”

Jocelyn Givens
404-633-3777, ext. 810


The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is the nation’s leading advocacy organization for the rheumatology care community, representing more than 9,500 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. As an ethically driven, professional membership organization committed to improving healthcare for Americans living with rheumatic diseases, the ACR advocates for high-quality, high-value policies and reforms that will ensure safe, effective, affordable and accessible rheumatology care.

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