WASHINGTON BUREAU — Five insurance trade groups have joined to fight a section of H.R. 4872 — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “fixer bill” — that would impose a 3.8% tax on annuities.

Drafters of H.R. 4872, the Reconciliation Act of 2010, want to use the revenue from the tax, which would apply to individuals with annual incomes over $200,000 and couples with annual incomes over $250,000, to help fund the Medicare program.

In the letter, insurance groups say the tax is an attack on the middle class and “would serve as a disincentive to save in a product that uniquely allows an individual to accumulate retirement savings and to guarantee that savings can never be outlived.”

Moreover, the groups write, “These annuities are used by millions of Americans to achieve retirement security.”

In the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, “this is not the time to discourage responsible retirement planning,” the groups write.

The groups with leaders signing the letter are the National Association for Fixed Annuities, Milwaukee; the American Council for Life Insurers, Washington; the Insured Retirement Institute, Washington; the National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, Va.; and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va.

“Annuities are used by millions of Americans to achieve retirement security,” the groups write. “In the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, this is not the time to discourage responsible retirement planning.”

The groups also write that, unlike previous generations who enjoyed access to defined benefit pension plans, most members of the baby boom generation–and those younger–will be unable to rely on an employer-provided defined benefit pension as a means to secure retirement income.

“This means that individuals must be prepared to manage their savings to last throughout retirement, a difficulty compounded by the fact that today’s retirees may spend 20, 30, or more years in retirement,” the groups write. “Consequently, Americans are being asked to manage longevity, investment, and inflation risks throughout their lives.”