Retail News Breaks
CHPA endorses FSA legislation for OTCs
July 30th, 2013
WASHINGTON – The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has expressed its support for the Restoring Access to Medication Act (H.R. 2835), which would enable consumers to buy over-the-counter medicines through flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) without having to get a prescription.
CHPA said the bill, introduced by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R., Kan.) and John Barrow (D., Ga.), would repeal a controversial requirement enacted into law as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 that consumers obtain a prescription to use FSAs and HSAs to purchase OTC products.
"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," Scott Melville, president and chief executive officer of CHPA, said in a statement. "OTC medicines are often a first line of defense against ailments and injuries and should be treated as medically reimbursable health care therapies, just like prescription medicines."
CHPA noted that in order to use money set aside in tax-preferred accounts to buy OTCs, consumers currently have to "seek unnecessary time with a doctor" to get a prescription for a nonprescription medicine and then submit a receipt of the purchase for reimbursement under an FSA or HSA.
"The Restoring Access to Medication Act will put consumers back in the driver's seat and also provide savings to our medical system," Jenkins stated. "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 health care law, and this bill helps do just that."
It's estimated that OTCs provide $102 billion in savings to the U.S. health care system annually, according to a January 2012 Booz & Co. study cited by CHPA. The benefits are realized via reduced doctor visits (accounting for $77 billion of the savings) and reduced drug costs (accounting for $25 billion of the savings). 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 those consumers would not otherwise seek treatment if they could not purchase OTCs.
CHPA added that H.R. 2835 is supported by the Health Choices Coalition, which represents doctors, 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.
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