CHPA Statement on U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee Passage of Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2015

Washington, D.C. (September 17, 2015)—Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) President and CEO Scott Melville released the following statement today regarding this afternoon’s hearing on the Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2015 (HR 1270).

“We congratulate the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on the favorable passage of the Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2015 (HR 1270) out of committee this afternoon. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), would restore over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to full tax-preferred  status, eliminating the need to first obtain a prescription in order to purchase OTC medicines with tax-free dollars. By removing the prescription requirement, H.R. 1270 will create important healthcare efficiencies and improve access to care within the U.S.

"According to a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association in May 2015, the majority of Americans (75%) favor including OTCs in Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). In fact, the survey also showed that one-half of households use OTC medicines to treat a chronic or recurring condition.  These families would particularly benefit from OTC eligibility in FSAs and HSAs.

"Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented over four years ago, Americans who can access tax-free healthcare dollars through their FSAs and HSAs must obtain a written prescription for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines in order to get those costs reimbursed through their savings accounts. In other words, consumers must visit their medical practitioner just to purchase medicines that treat common ailments, such as allergies, cough or topical pain, through their FSAs and HSAs. This is a commonsense fix to the law for many families who rely on OTC medicines.

"The Health Choices Coalition, comprised of physicians, consumers, retailers, manufacturers, pharmacies, pharmacists, patients, insurers, small businesses and large employers, today submitted a letter to the Ways and Means Committee in support of the bill. The letter — signed by nineteen signatory organizations, including CHPA —  noted that for the estimated 50 million working  Americans who rely on voluntary contributions of pre‐tax dollars to FSAs and HSAs, the  purchase of safe, affordable OTC medicines is essential to help meet their basic health care needs.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the bipartisan co-sponsors and bill supporters as the bill moves onto the floor, as a means to promote the safe, effective use of OTC medicines to help reduce healthcare spending in the U.S.”

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 134-year-old trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to promoting the increasingly vital role of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements in America’s healthcare system through science, education, and advocacy.

Contact: Jenni Roberson (202) 429-9260