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Public Statements

Bill S.1368

Floor Speech

Location: Washington DC

By Mr. ROBERTS (for himself and Mr. NELSON of Nebraska):

S. 1368. A bill to amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to repeal distributions for medicine qualified only if for prescribed drug or insulin; to the Committee on Finance.

Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce a bipartisan bill, the Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2011. This bill would repeal the portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which requires individuals to have a prescription to spend the money they have saved in their Flexible Spending Accounts.

Flexible Spending Accounts, FSAs, Health Savings Accounts, HSAs, and other medical savings arrangements provide plan participants with an affordable, convenient and accessible means to manage their health care expenses.

More than 35 million Americans participate in FSAs and more than 10 million Americans participate in a HSA. These accounts allow plan participants to set aside their own dollars on a pre-tax basis to pay for health care expenses, giving individuals control over health care decisions and how to pay for that care.

A key benefit of these plans prior to enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, PPACA, was the ability for participants to use the dollars they set aside in these plans to pay for the cost of over-the-counter medications.

However, under PPACA, plan participants may no longer use funds from these accounts to purchase over-the-counter medications, unless they have a prescription for the medication.

This prohibition takes away choice from individuals about how to manage their health care expenses and adds yet another burden to physicians, as some plan participants will seek a prescription for over-the-counter medications. And, worst of all, it injects increased costs into our health care system.

Rather than promoting cost-effectiveness and accessibility, this provision instead directs participants to potentially more costly, less convenient, and more time-consuming alternatives. Further, it injects unnecessary confusion and complexity into a system that was previously straightforward and easy for consumers to utilize.

This bill repeals Sec. 9003 of the PPACA and restores the ability of plan participants to use the funds in their FSA, HRA, HSA or Archers MSA to purchase OTC medications, allowing them to better manage the cost of their health care expenses.

A family physician from Leawood, Kansas told me, ``I am pleased that legislation is being introduced to reverse this policy. Many of my patients face undue burdens purchasing needed medications that are essential to their health maintenance and overall wellbeing. Reversal of this policy will allow my patients to continue to purchase the numerous beneficial over-the-counter products that are so important in our daily lives and will eliminate a substantial administrative burden on my practice.''

In Kansas, and throughout the U.S., a broad coalition of groups support this legislation, including the U.S. Chamber, NFIB, pharmacist groups, drug store organizations and consumer groups.

I would invite my colleagues to join me in this effort by cosponsoring this legislation.

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