ARLINGTON, VA — February 10, 2011 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today praised U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) for introducing important legislation to repeal certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

     “We strongly urge the U.S. Congress to repeal provisions in the law preventing consumers from using their flexible spending account (FSA) debit cards to purchase over-the-counter medications (OTC),” said FMI President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie G. Sarasin. “This law represents a new tax on consumers who currently use their FSA debit cards to purchase OTC medications and it is contrary to the goals of reducing health care costs and improving choice. Equally important, it is disruptive to families who will need to schedule a costly appointment with their physician to get a prescription for cough and cold medicines if they want to purchase these commonplace products with their FSA cards.”

     Less than three years ago, retailers spent extensive time and resources on technology investments that would allow eligible and non-eligible FSA products to be distinguishable at the point-of-sale. Upgrading the technology and point-of-sale equipment to support FSA debit payment transactions has cost the supermarket industry millions of dollars.   

     The new law also impedes the ability of supermarket retailers without in-store pharmacies to allow FSA debit card customers access to OTC medicines with or without a prescription.

     FMI is grateful to Sen. Hutchison and Congressman Paulsen for co-sponsoring this important legislation. We look forward to working with them to reverse newly-imposed financial burdens on hard-working families and local grocers who strive to provide products and services to them.