House Committee Approves Consumer Health Savings Bill
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Today, the House Ways and Means Committee took an important step toward reinstating consumers’ ability to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines with tax-preferred savings accounts, including Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The Restoring Access to Medication Act (H.R. 1922), authored by Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) and approved today by the Committee, also extends FSA/HSA eligibility to feminine hygiene products.
“OTC medicines are used by millions of Americans to manage a wide range of everyday ailments and conditions, like allergies, a headache, or an upset stomach,” said Scott Melville, president and CEO of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA). “Americans who set aside part of their paycheck for healthcare costs using an FSA/HSA should be able to spend their money on the products they rely on most regularly — OTC medicines and feminine hygiene products.”
Approximately 60 million Americans use an FSA or HSA to manage their healthcare expenses. However, since 2011, a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has prevented consumers from using these savings to purchase OTC products. 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.
“At a time when Congress is looking for ways to reduce healthcare costs, reinstating consumers’ ability to purchase OTC medicines using their FSA/HSA is an example of an easy, bipartisan fix,” continued Melville. “Both political parties agree that restoring OTCs to HSA/FSA eligibility is good policy and we have evidence that OTCs save families and the U.S. healthcare system money. We applaud Reps. Kind, Meng, Walorski, and LaHood for their continued leadership and urge Congress to advance the bill in the near future.”
Using OTC medicines helps reduce unnecessary doctor visits, lost time from work, and provides a significant cost advantage for consumers. According to a recent study, OTC medicines save consumers and the healthcare system $146 billion each year, and for every dollar spent on OTC medications in the U.S., the healthcare system saves $7.20.
At the markup, the bill sponsors spoke in support of the legislation, which passed the Committee by voice vote.
CHPA has long supported the Restoring Access to Medication Act legislation. Earlier this month, CHPA President and CEO Scott Melville went on national and local radio to educate consumers about legislation that could help American families save on their healthcare costs.
To learn more about the legislation and OTC value, visit http://overthecountervalue.org.
The Restoring Access to Medications Act was reintroduced in both the House and Senate this Spring. The Senate bill, S.1089, is sponsored by Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Angus King (I-ME), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The House version of the legislation, H.R.1922 also extends FSA/HSA eligibility to feminine hygiene products and is sponsored by Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).
Prior to today’s Committee vote, CHPA and the Health Choices Coalition sent a letter of support to the bill sponsors.
Founded in 1881, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the national trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, dietary supplements, and consumer medical devices. 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 consumer self-care by preserving and expanding choice and availability of consumer healthcare products. www.chpa.org