Rep. LaHood Legislation to Reduce Health Care Costs Included in the Phase III Coronavirus Relief Bill—the CARES Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL) to reduce health care costs and improve access to care was included in Phase III Coronavirus Relief Bill—the CARES Act, which passed the United States Senate last night by a vote of 96-0. The Restoring Access to Medication Act will give individuals the ability to use Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) to purchase over-the-counter medications and menstrual care products.
“As families and patients navigate this challenging time, it’s vital that they have continued access to quality health care at an affordable cost, and health savings accounts are an essential resource for doing that,” said Rep. LaHood. “This commonsense and bipartisan bill will ensure over-the-counter medicines can be purchased through HSAs, expanding access to care and reducing out-of-pocket health care costs. People are looking for support and relief during this time of uncertainty, and we must provide them with every tool we can. I am pleased that the legislation I authored will help Illinoisans and Americans, as we work together to combat COVID-19.”
The coronavirus outbreak is having an unquestionable impact on central and west-central Illinois, and enacting this provision will help Americans who are sick immediately, as the over-the-counter benefit will be restored as of the first of the year. With the President’s signature, this legislation will begin to make it easier for patients to treat themselves, allow individuals to use their HSA to buy OTC medicine, and free up medical resources for those who need them most during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Over 22 million Americans utilize HSAs, and over 33 million Americans contribute to an FSA. Since 2011, Americans have been prevented from using tax-preferred accounts to purchase non-prescription over-the-counter medicines. Without OTC medicines, 90 percent of consumers would seek professional medical treatment for minor ailments, causing an unnecessary burden on the healthcare system. Over-the-counter medication can be used as a treatment for cold and flu symptoms, pain management, smoking cessation, and allergies. Menstrual care products and over-the-counter medicines are essential for millions of Americans; making these products more affordable for families will improve public health and wellness and prevent more expensive complications down the road.
The full text of the Restoring Access to Medication Act can be read here.