Legislation will reverse ban on OTC reimbursement impacting 19 million American households
Washington, D.C. (February 10, 2011) — The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is pleased to lend its support for The Patients’ Freedom to Choose Act, introduced today by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) and Representative Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.). This important legislation would repeal a requirement enacted into law as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 that requires consumers to obtain a prescription in order to utilize their flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
“The legislation introduced by Senator Hutchison and Representative Paulsen is a critical step to ensure that the 19 million American households who have FSAs regain their ability to purchase OTC medicines with pre-tax dollars like they do for other medicines and medical expenses, and without the added burden and cost of seeking a doctor’s prescription for treatments they rely on every day such as cold and flu medicines, allergy treatments, and pain relievers,” said CHPA President and CEO Scott M. Melville.
FSAs are offered by 85 percent of large employers, and the availability of OTC medicines through an employer-sponsored FSA encourages intelligent healthcare decisions by both employers and employees, increases worker productivity, avoids unnecessary doctor visits, and empowers consumers to practice smart self-care, efficiently and cost-effectively.
A recent survey found that more than 90 percent of Americans prefer to seek treatment with OTCs before seeing a healthcare provider. In addition, nearly 90 percent of the physicians surveyed recommend that patients use OTC medicines before seeing them. Under the new restriction, however, an overwhelming majority of physicians surveyed believe there will be an increased burden on medical professionals.
“OTC medications are real medicines that help consumers get well, feel well, and stay well and they should be covered just like prescription medicines under FSA accounts,” added Melville. “With the country’s annual cough, cold, and flu season upon us, now is the time for Congress to support this bill and reduce the cost of healthcare for millions of consumers. We applaud Senator Hutchison and Congressman Paulsen for their leadership in restoring this vital tool American workers have come to depend on as a first line of defense for their families’ healthcare needs.”
Contacts: Elizabeth Funderburk and Katie Bryan
CHPA is the 130-year-old-trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.