The National Community Pharmacists Association has voiced its support for The Patients' Freedom to Choose Act, which aims to repeal a provision in health care reform law that would require prescriptions to purchase over-the counter medicines via flexible saving accounts (FSAs) and health saving accounts (HSAs).


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NCPA backs legislation on using FSAs to buy OTCs

February 14th, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association has voiced its support for The Patients' Freedom to Choose Act, which aims to repeal a provision in health care reform law that would require prescriptions to purchase over-the counter medicines via flexible saving accounts (FSAs) and health saving accounts (HSAs).

NCPA said it has sent letters in support of the legislation, introduced in the Senate and the House last week by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R., Texas) and Rep. Erik Paulsen (R., Minn.

"We want to thank Sen. Hutchison and Rep. Paulsen for their strong leadership in attempting to restore the ability for patients to purchase OTC medications through their FSAs and HSAs without the inconvenience of first having to get a prescription from a doctor's office," Kathleen Jaeger, NCPA executive vice president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Until this year, these commonplace and affordable drugs for treating pain, allergies and other ailments were not subjected to this unreasonable requirement. We call on Congress to pass these companion bills as quickly as possible."

The provision in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 requiring that patients must first get a prescription for an OTC medication before they can be reimbursed from their FSA or HSA went into effect Jan. 1. NCPA reported that an estimated 35 million Americans rely on voluntary contributions of pretax dollars to FSAs and HSAs for basic health care needs.

Readily available OTC drugs are often used by patients before resorting to costlier doctor office visits, especially during cold and flu season, NCPA noted.

"Just think about the inconvenience for parents and discomfort for their children when the usual routine of getting an OTC medication at their local pharmacy for a cold now requires getting a doctor's prescription," Jaeger stated.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores also has expressed its support of The Patients' Freedom to Choose Act and applauded Hutchison and Paulsen's leadership on the issue.

Last fall,  NCPA and NACDS participated in a coalition that urged Congress to repeal the PPACA provision requiring a prescription for FSA/HSA purchases of OTC drugs, which the coalition members called a "cough and cold tax."

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