CHPA applauds introduction of Restoring Access to Medication Act

Bill would restore consumers’ rights to purchase OTCs with FSA and HSA dollars

Washington, D.C. (July 26, 2013) –  The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is pleased to lend its support for the Restoring Access to Medication Act (H.R. 2835)  introduced by U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.).

This legislation would repeal a requirement enacted into law as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 that requires consumers to obtain a prescription in order to utilize their flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.

“We thank Reps. Jenkins and Barrow for introducing this initiative that would make medical expenses more affordable for the estimated 19 million American families who have used FSAs and HSAs to help manage their household budget,” CHPA President and CEO Scott Melville said.  “OTC medicines are often a first line of defense against ailments and injuries and should be treated as medically reimbursable healthcare therapies, just like prescription medicines.”

To use the money they have set aside in their tax-preferred accounts to purchase OTCs, consumers now have to seek unnecessary time with a doctor to obtain a prescription for a nonprescription medicine and then submit a receipt of the purchase for reimbursement under an FSA or HSA account.

“The Restoring Access to Medication Act will put consumers back in the driver’s seat and also provide savings to our medical system,”  Rep.  Jenkins said.  “Folks are already facing higher premiums, and requiring an unnecessary prescription for aspirin only costs families more. Congress should be doing everything we can to mitigate the negative effects from the president’s healthcare law, and this bill helps do just that.”

The broad availability of OTC medicines, 24/7, in a wide range of retail outlets including pharmacies, supermarkets, and convenience stores provides tremendous benefit to both consumers and the U.S. healthcare system.  A January 2012 study by Booz & Company estimated that OTCs provide $102 billion dollars in savings to our nation’s healthcare system every year.

These benefits are realized through reduced doctor visits accounting for $77 billion of those savings and reduced drug costs accounting for $25 billion.  The study also reported that 240 million people each year treat illnesses with OTC medicines, bought off-the-shelf without a prescription. According to the study, an estimated 60 million of these consumers would not otherwise seek treatment if they could not purchase OTCs.
The bill is supported by the Health Choices Coalition, which represents physicians, consumers, retailers, manufacturers, pharmacies, pharmacists, patients, pharmacy benefit managers, small businesses, and employers in an effort to stop the unintended consequences resulting from the PPACA restriction on OTCs.

Contact: Jenni Terry, 202.429.0469

CHPA is the 132-year-old trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.