U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today introduced legislation repealing restrictions placed on health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible spending accounts (FSA) in the President's health care law. A $2,500 FSA contribution cap went into effect this year. Another provision of the law, already in effect, prohibits HSA and FSA participants from using their own account dollars to purchase over the counter medicines without a prescription.
"It defies logic for Washington to restrict and deny the flexibility so many American families need in using their health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts," said Rep. Paulsen. "Forbidding families from using money they have set aside to purchase affordable over-the-counter medications, such as Claritin and Tylenol, not only wastes the time and money of families and individuals, but also places an additional burden on doctors and health professionals. Washington should be working to find ways to promote and protect programs that help lower the cost of healthcare and allow individuals to make better healthcare choices."
"These arbitrary and time-consuming changes are unwise and unfair to families trying to make good choices," said Sen. Johanns. "Requiring prescriptions for aspirin or a doctor's visit for hay-fever is not health care reform, it's government overreach and interference. Families with children who have special needs are among those who rely heavily upon these accounts and they shouldn't be punished. It's time to restore these accounts and restore commonsense."
HSAs and FSAs are accounts that allow individuals to set aside pre-tax dollars for their health care costs. Prior to the health care law, FSAs did not have contribution limits. This allowed families to plan for known or routine out-of-pocket health expenses not covered by insurance plans.
The contribution caps are especially harmful for families with special needs children who have used FSA accounts to pay for care costs in excess of $14,000 annually.
Many families use these special health care accounts for associated expenses, like extra contact lenses, reading glasses and over-the-counter cold or allergy medications. The new requirements in the health care law force families to spend time and money to receive prescriptions for these common purchases before the purchases qualify for HSA and FSA spending.
The legislation currently has 11 cosponsors in the Senate and 35 in the House of Representatives.
Paulsen, a champion of small business and advocate of free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and innovation, serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, the bicameral Joint Economic Committee, and is co-chair of the Congressional Medical Technology Caucus.
For more information on Rep. Paulsen's work in Congress visit www.paulsen.house.gov.