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ABC, as part of the Health Choices Coalition, sent a letter to Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), supporting the Restoring Access to Medication Act. The legislate intends to avert the consequences resulting from restrictions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that prohibit the use of tax-preferred accounts for purchasing over-the-counter (OTC) medications without a prescription.

“The goal of PPACA was to expand access to affordable care,” The group wrote in the letter. “Unfortunately, the provision that limits coverage of OTC medicines will instead increase costs to the health care system and place new administrative burdens on already over-burdened physician offices. We remain committed to working with you and others in Congress to advance this legislation that will increase cost efficiencies in the health care system and give consumers control of their health care choices.”

According to the letter, millions of American families rely on flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and other tax-preferred accounts to purchase these cost-effective medications. This issue is critical to the estimated 19 million working Americans who rely on voluntary contributions of pre-tax dollars to FSAs to help meet their basic health care needs, including the purchase of safe, affordable OTC medicines.

The group also pointed out that these medicines save consumers billions of dollars annually by reducing unnecessary doctors’ visits and less time lost from work.  

“Prohibiting the use of FSA funds to purchase these medicines or requiring documentation from a doctor verifying that OTC items are being used to treat a medical condition is already limiting access to, and greatly reducing the cost-efficiencies associated with, these medicines,” the coalition wrote.

In addition, the letter cited a recent survey that found more than 90 percent of Americans prefer to seek treatment with OTC items before seeing a health care provider. Also, nearly 90 percent of the physicians and pharmacists surveyed recommend that patients self-treat with OTC medicines prior to seeing a doctor. As a result, an overwhelming majority of pharmacists and physicians surveyed believe this restriction is unnecessarily increasing the burden on medical professionals.  

In addition to ABC, the Health Choices Coalition includes physicians, dentists, consumers, retailers, manufacturers, pharmacies, pharmacists, pharmacy benefit managers, patients, insurers, small businesses and employers.