Senate Introduces Legislation to Restore OTC Eligibility Under Tax-Preferred Healthcare Accounts

Bill introduction comes on the heels of House companion legislation, introduced last month

WASHINGTON, D.C., (April 10, 2019) — The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) applauds the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate that would restore the ability of consumers to use their tax-preferred flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. The legislation (S. 1089) the Restoring Access to Medication Act, was introduced by Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Angus King (I-Maine), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). 

OTC medicine eligibility in tax-preferred accounts was removed in 2011 as one of the first-implemented provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since that time, CHPA has been leading a broad national coalition – the Health Choices Coalition (HCC) – advocating for restoration of this important consumer benefit. The HCC includes consumer advocates, policymakers, physicians, dentists, retailers, pharmacies, pharmacists, insurers, drug manufacturers, and various employers. 

“Americans are being asked to fund more of their healthcare expenses through higher deductibles and copays, so it’s more important than ever that cost-effective OTC medicines are treated the same as other eligible medical expenses in tax-preferred healthcare accounts,” CHPA President and CEO Scott Melville said. “Restoring OTC eligibility under FSAs and HSAs will help the 45 million consumers who use these accounts and who are looking to take greater ownership of their own health through responsible self-care.” 

Americans depend on OTC medicines as a first-line option for meeting family healthcare needs, and these medicines provide a safe, effective, affordable, and convenient means to alleviate the symptoms of minor to moderate ailments. A new study released by CHPA last month shows that 90 percent of Americans prefer treating with OTC medicines before seeing a healthcare provider. The study found that, on average, each dollar spent on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system $7.20, totaling nearly $146 billion in annual savings. 

On March 27, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced similar legislation, sponsored by Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), which also extends FSA/HSA eligibility to feminine hygiene products.

To learn more about the recently-released OTC value study, visit http://overthecountervalue.org. 

 

 
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The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 138-year-old national 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 more than $7, contributing a total of $146 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to empowering self-care by preserving and expanding choice and availability of consumer healthcare products. chpa.org


 
Contact: Lauren Bloomberg (Lbloomberg@chpa.org
 
202.429.3534