HEARING ADVISORY: Boustany Announces Hearing on the Impact of Limitations on the Use of Tax-Advantaged Accounts for the Purchase of Over-the-Counter Medication

April 25, 2012 — Hearing Advisory   

Congressman Charles W. Boustany, Jr., MD, (R-LA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced the Subcommittee will hold a hearing on limitations on the purchase of over-the-counter (“OTC”) medication with tax-advantaged accounts such as health care Flexible Spending Arrangements (“FSAs”), Health Savings Accounts (“HSAs”) and Health Reimbursement Accounts (“HRAs”).  The hearing will take place on Wednesday, April 25, 2012, in Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 2:30 P.M.

In view of the limited time available to hear witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only.  However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.  A list of invited witnesses will follow.


Millions of Americans currently use tax-advantaged accounts to save for medical expenses defined as “qualified” by the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).  Contributions to and distributions from these accounts are generally tax-exempt and may be used for unreimbursed medical expenses such as deductibles and co-payments.  Approximately 33 million Americans are in families with FSAs, which are offered by 29 percent of small businesses and 85 percent of large employers.  An additional 11.4 million Americans are enrolled in an HSA.

Until 2011, these account holders could use their tax-free savings to purchase OTC medication without a prescription.  Recent changes to the tax code modified the definition of qualified medical expenses, generally prohibiting Americans from using their FSA, HSA or HRA funds for medication not prescribed by a health care provider.  As a result, Americans must now purchase non-prescribed OTC medications with after-tax dollars, resulting in a tax increase on American families.

Physician groups have suggested that the OTC medication prescription requirement has imposed an unreasonable administrative burden, resulted in longer waits for appointments, and increased health care costs.  The Subcommittee’s hearing will examine how these changes have specifically affected patients, consumers, physicians, and health care costs and spending.

In announcing the hearing, Chairman Boustany said, “Too often in Washington, officials make decisions about health care policy based on abstract theories and budgetary scores.  This hearing will focus on how one decision in particular – the limitation on how consumers may use their own FSA, HSA or HRA money – has adversely affected access and affordability for families, physicians, and job creators.”


The hearing will focus on reviewing the rules affecting FSAs, HSAs and HRAs and the impact the rules have on consumers, physicians, and employers. 


Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms.  From the Committee homepage, https://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.”  Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.”  Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information.  ATTACH your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Tuesday, May 9 2012.  Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings.  For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.


The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.  As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee.  The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines.  Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below.  Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.

1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments.  Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.

 2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased.  All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.

3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears.  A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.

The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.  If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested).  Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.

Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.