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Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has expressed its “enthusiasm” for the U.S. House of Representatives’ recent vote in favor of the Health Care Cost Reduction Act, H.R. 436, which supports flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.
The vote repealed a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that placed limitations on the use of tax-preferred health care accounts for the purchase of OTC medicines without a prescription. The bill by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan) passed the Ways and Means Committee late last month by a wide margin.
“It is estimated that 19 million American households rely on FSAs to purchase OTC medicines using pre-tax dollars with employer-sponsored FSA debit card accounts,” noted FMI SVP of government and public affairs Jennifer Hatcher. “FMI has been a strong supporter of reinstating FSAs as well as health savings accounts (HSAs) for the purpose of purchasing OTC products.”
Testifying in April before a Ways and Means subcommittee on the FSA debit card issue, Hatcher “reiterated that the elimination of this employer-provided benefit is essentially a new tax on consumers who could previously put aside pre-tax dollars to pay for health care-related items. [I] noted the significant amount of time and financial resources the supermarket industry devoted to developing and implementing an information inventory approval system (IIAS) in order for point-of-sale equipment to verify in real time that medications being purchased with an FSA/HRA debit card are eligible medical expenses.”
FMI is a member of the Health Choices Coalition, which has been actively lobbying in support of H.R. 436, since more than 68 percent of supermarkets have pharmacies, and both pharmacy and OTC products represent an important component of those retailers' overall health-and-wellness offerings.