ARLINGTON, VA – June 7, 2012 – Food Marketing Institute (FMI) issued the following statement from Jennifer Hatcher, FMI senior vice president of government and public affairs, regarding the U.S. House of Representatives’ vote in favor of the Health Care Cost Reduction Act, H.R. 436, supporting flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines:

“This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on important legislation to repeal 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 over-the-counter (OTC) medicines without a prescription.  The bill, authored by Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), passed the Ways and Means Committee late last month by a wide margin, and we earned comparable support on the House floor today.

“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[1]. FMI has been a strong supporter of reinstating FSAs as well as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for the purpose of purchasing OTC products.

“I recently testified on the FSA debit card issue before a Ways and Means Subcommittee and 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. My testimony 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 that has been actively lobbying in support of H.R. 436, as more than 68 percent of supermarkets have pharmacies, and both pharmacy and OTC products represent an important component of our overall health and wellness offerings. I have embedded a copy of the letter that we sent on behalf of our 1,250 retailer and wholesaler members to the full House on Tuesday, which echoes our enthusiasm for the positive outcome today. ”

For Media:

  • Letter to the U.S. House of Representatives in favor of H.R. 436
  • FMI April 25 Testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee on the Impact of Limitations on the Use of Tax-Advantaged Accounts for the Purchase of Over-the-Counter Medication

[1] “Impact of Flexible Spending Account Rule Changes on OTC Purchasing,” Nielsen on behalf of CHPA, January, 2011