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House passes bill restoring use of FSAs for OTC drugs

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Legislation approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday would allow employees to again tap their flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements to pay for over-the-counter medications without a doctor's prescription.

H.R. 1270, introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., and approved by the House 243-164, would reverse a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that became effective in 2011 and stripped employees' ability to use their FSAs, HSAs and HRAs to pay for over-the-counter medications, except for insulin.

That ACA provision “makes no sense requiring individuals to see their doctor simply to get a prescription for common cold medication,” Rep. Jenkins said in a statement after the House vote.

Under the Jenkins bill, the lifting of the ban would take effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

The measure goes to the Senate for consideration.