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House to consider bill restoring use of FSAs for OTC drugs

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Employees again would be able to tap their flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements to pay for over-the-counter medications without a doctor's prescription under legislation the House of Representatives is expected to consider this week.

H.R. 1270, introduced by Reps. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., and approved last year by the House Ways and Means Committee, would reverse a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that became effective in 2011 and stripped away employees' ability to use their FSAs, HSAs and HRAs to pay for over-the-counter medications, except for insulin.

That ban is resulting in “families spending more money to see their doctor to get basic over-the-counter medication, and doctors spending valuable time prescribing cold medicine as their more critical patients wait for attention,” Rep. Jenkins said last month at a briefing.

Under the Jenkins bill, the lifting of the ban would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016.

The measure has 39 co-sponsors, mostly Republicans.