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The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Restoring Access to Medications Act (H.R. 1270) on July 6, which would roll back a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires prescriptions for over-the-counter medications purchased under flexible spending arrangements and health savings accounts. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), passed the House 243-164  in a bi-partisan vote.

Last year, ABC sent a letter in support of H.R. 1270 as a member of the Health Choices Coalition. As the coalition explained in its letter, the prescription requirement has led to significant burdens on both patients and the physicians who treat them. By removing this requirement, H.R. 1270 will create efficiencies and improve access to care within the U.S. healthcare system.

The House also passed the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act (H.R. 5447) on June 21, which would allow small businesses to provide Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to employees with health insurance coverage. In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance stating that all employers that fail to offer a group health plan, but provide tax preferred dollars through an HRA for their workers to pay health insurance premiums or other direct medical expenses, will be fined $100 per day, per employee. The $100-per day penalty went into effect on July 1, 2015, and amounts to $36,500 per employee over the course of a year. These fines are capped at $500,000 per year, an amount that is 18 times greater than the penalty for large firms that do not comply with the employer mandate.

Ahead of the vote, ABC sent a letter  to Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) thanking them for their leadership in introducing this legislation. The coalition explained, “This provides small employers with necessary additional flexibility and gives those small companies – the majority of whom do not have human resource departments or benefits specialists – a simpler, easier way to help their employees with rising medical costs.”

Providing quality health care benefits is a top priority for ABC and its member companies. ABC continues to push back against harmful provisions in the ACA and advocate for policies that reduce the cost of health care for employers and their employees. 

Learn more about ABC’s efforts here.

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