House-passed Legislation Restores Nonprescription Drugs as Eligible FSA Purchases

CHPA thanks bill sponsors for efforts to reduce healthcare costs for consumers

Washington, D.C. (June 7, 2012)—The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a legislative package that included a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provision that disqualified expenses for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs under health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) without a prescription.  

“The House of Representatives’ vote today is a win for America’s tax-payers who use health savings accounts to manage their family’s healthcare costs,”  Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) President and CEO Scott Melville said.  “How an individual or family chooses to spend the dollars they set aside in a flexible spending arrangement should be based on their healthcare needs and not hindered by a policy that does more to reduce healthcare access than expand it.”

Melville said that a recent Booz & Co. study, “The Value of OTC Medicine to the United States,” found that for every dollar spent on OTC medicines, the U.S. healthcare system saves $6 to $7 – providing $102 billion in value each year.  Before the PPACA provision took effect in January 2011, nearly 10 million Americans used their FSAs to purchase OTC medicines. PPACA left those consumers with three options:  (1) to seek an unnecessary doctor’s appointment to get a prescription and then submit the purchase for reimbursement under their FSA account; (2) to purchase the OTC medicine out of their own pockets, which will raise the cost of the product between 10-35 percent; or (3) go without treatment.  

The repeal language included in the bill is from the Restoring Access to Medication Act (H.R. 5842), introduced by U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), which was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee last week.

“The members of the Consumer Healthcare Products offer our sincere thanks to Rep. Jenkins, Rep. Shelley Berkley, and the other Members of the Ways & Means Committee for championing this fix through the House,” Melville added. “We look now to the Senate and ask supporters of this repeal to urge leadership to take up a vote on this measure before the fall election.”

Contact: Jenni Terry, 202.429.9260 

 CHPA is the 131-year-old-trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.