Bill would repeal HSA prescription requirement

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 25, 2011

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Bills introduced in the House and Senate on July 14 would repeal a provision in the national health reform law that requires holders of certain tax-exempt health accounts to get physician prescriptions before using account funding to purchase over-the-counter drugs.

The provision, which affects health savings accounts, flexible-spending arrangements and other tax-exempt accounts, went into effect in January. The Senate measure is sponsored by Sens. Ben Nelson (D, Neb.) and Pat Roberts (R, Kan.). The House bill is sponsored by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R, Kan.) and Shelley Berkley (D, Nev.).

Nelson said the bills would end a misguided regulation that makes it harder for consumers to access medication and creates extra paperwork for doctors. "Flexible spending and other medical savings accounts allow consumers to have more control of their medical decisions and help them save money. The use of these consumer-driven accounts should be encouraged, not discouraged," Nelson said.

The provision was included in the health reform law as an attempt to curb unnecessary drug purchases. It was expected to save the federal government up to $5 billion over a decade.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) and Rep. Erik Paulsen (R, Minn.) unveiled legislation in late May that also would repeal the health reform law's prescription requirement for consumer-directed accounts.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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