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March 23, 2015

Barrasso, Paulsen Introduce Family Health Care Flexibility Act

Bill repeals restrictions included in Obamacare on health savings accounts and flexible savings accounts.

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) introduced legislation repealing Obamacare restrictions on health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible spending accounts (FSA). The Family Health Care Flexibility Act repeals the part of the health care law that sets a $2,500 FSA contribution cap and prohibits HSA and FSA participants from using their own account dollars to purchase over-the-counter medicines without a prescription. 

“Families rely on health savings and flexible spending accounts to pay for routine out-of-pocket health expenses, including over-the-counter medication. Under Obamacare, families now have to waste more time and money jumping through Washington mandated hoops just to access these accounts,” said Sen. Barrasso. “We should be making it easier for families to pay for routine medical expenses, not harder. It’s time to restore these accounts and give Americans the flexibility they need to decide what works best for their families.”

“Health savings and flexible spending accounts put power in the hands of patients by letting them make their own decisions when it comes to their care,” said Rep. Paulsen. “It makes no sense that the President’s health care law prohibits a parent from using these accounts to purchase over-the-counter allergy treatment or cold medicine for their child without a doctor’s prescription. As health care costs continue to rise, Washington should allow more choices in health care, not fewer options.”

The Family Health Care Flexibility Act is co-sponsored by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).


The President’s health care law included new restrictions on both HSAs and FSAs. Section 9003 of the law mandated that only prescribed medicines, except insulin, could be reimbursed through an HSA or FSA. Previously, individuals could receive reimbursement for all medications through these accounts, including over-the-counter drugs which were not prescribed by a medical provider.

Section 9005 created a new $2,500 cap on FSA contributions. Prior to the health care law, there was no contribution limit placed on FSAs and individuals could use this account to pay for known or routine medical expenses such as contact lenses, orthodontic braces or glasses.

Americans trying to use their FSA or HSA to purchase over-the-counter drugs must now visit their medical provider and receive a prescription. This is a waste of time for the provider and creates more unnecessary costs for the health care system.

Patients should be encouraged to utilize over-the-counter medications, which save the U.S. health care system approximately $102 billion per year, compared to other therapies.