Hutchison Introduces the Patients’ Freedom to Choose Act

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) has introduced the Patients’ Freedom to Choose Act today, according to a press release from her office.

The bill would “repeal two provisions in the Obama health care law that limit a patient’s choice in how to use consumer-directed health savings plans.”

On January 1, 2011, a provision in the health care law took effect prohibiting individuals from using funds from either Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to purchase over-the-counter medication unless they have a prescription from their doctor. In addition, starting in 2013, the Obama health care law institutes a $2,500 federal cap for all FSA contributions. Over 80 percent of all large employers that offer an FSA to their employees include a limit that is over this $2,500 threshold.

Sen. Hutchison’s legislation repeals the arbitrary cap on FSA contributions by striking the $2,500 restriction. It also repeals the provision that requires patients using HSAs or FSAs to have a prescription from their doctor before they purchase over-the-counter medication.

HSAs and FSAs are innovative and popular health benefits that both large and small employers offer to their employees. These accounts allow individuals to set aside a certain amount of money each year on a pre-tax basis in order to pay for various health care expenses. Because employee contributions are made before they are taxed, these accounts are another way to ease Americans’ growing tax burden. America’s Health Insurance Plans recently released a report that shows over 10 million Americans now are enrolled in HSAs. In addition, over 35 million people have FSAs and 85 percent of all large employers (those with over 500 employees) offer them as a benefit to their employees.

It’s currently co-sponsored by the following Senators:

The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).


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