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Employee Benefits Industry Organizes to Protect Flexible Spending Accounts From Elimination or Contribution Limits
Date:8/17/2009

Plan Participants Will Face Increased Taxes and Health Care Costs with Structural Change

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Flexible spending accounts (FSAs), a valuable employee benefit used by millions of Americans, are threatened as Congress considers eliminating or capping contributions to the tax-advantaged benefit in order to fund a small portion of health care reform. In response, the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC), a non-profit organization dedicated to the maintenance and expansion of private employee benefit programs on a tax-advantaged basis, has formed a national advocacy organization, Save Flexible Spending Plans (www.savemyflexplan.org), to encourage Congress to protect the benefit and the millions of plan participants threatened with higher taxes and health care costs.

"It would be disastrous if the millions of Americans who rely on flexible spending accounts to manage their health care costs become the unintended victims of health care reform," said Jody Dietel, spokesperson for Save Flexible Spending Plans and Compliance Officer at WageWorks, a benefits company based in San Mateo, California. "An elimination or cap on flexible spending accounts will force plan participants to pay higher taxes and incur higher health care costs at a time when many can least afford it. Sadly, a change to the structure of flexible spending accounts will disproportionately affect those who need the program the most - individuals and families battling chronic conditions that require ongoing care and medical supplies."

Save Flexible Spending Plans has already seen some success in their efforts to reach and educate members of Congress and their staffs on the issue. Beyond the participation of ECFC members in hundreds of meetings on Capitol Hill, thousands of supporters have used online tools available through the campaign's Web site at www.savemyflexplan.org to contact their members of Congress. Through the Web site, many supporters have also shared stories about how they use their FSA and thoughts on why the benefit should be protected.

"We are actively working on Capitol Hill to promote the idea that health care reform should not be accomplished at the expense of the hardworking Americans who rely on FSAs to manage their health care costs," said Dennis Triplett, chairman of the ECFC's Board of Directors and CEO of UMB Bank Healthcare Services. "It's critical for everyone interested in protecting FSAs to get involved and contact their members of Congress on the issue."

In the House of Representatives, the Energy and Commerce Committee approved health care reform legislation last month that includes a ban on using money set aside in FSAs to buy inexpensive over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and allergy medications, thereby forcing many to seek out higher cost prescription medications. While the Senate Committee on Finance continues to develop their own health care reform legislation, expected to be introduced in September, there are reports that the legislation may include various caps on the amount of money that individuals can contribute to their FSAs each year on a tax advantaged basis. This follows a report issued earlier in the year by the Joint Committee on Taxation that projected repealing the tax exclusion for FSAs, Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements would save approximately $68.6 billion over ten years.

About Save Flexible Spending Plans

Save Flexible Spending Plans is a national grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to preventing the elimination of flexible spending accounts in health care reform efforts. The campaign is sponsored by the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC), www.ecfc.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to the maintenance and expansion of private employee benefit programs on a tax-advantaged basis. To learn more, take action and read the personal stories of FSA participants, please visit www.savemyflexplan.org.


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SOURCE Save Flexible Spending Plans
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