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Enactment of New FSA Restriction Will Pose Problems for Consumers, Retailers and Benefit Providers
Date:7/13/2010

Congressman Pomeroy, Industry Leaders Call for Clarification, Education

WASHINGTON, July 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A provision of health care reform could blindside consumers and create an administrative nightmare for providers and retailers as its January 1, 2011 implementation date draws closer.  Without intervention, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, passed earlier this year, will require consumers to obtain a physician's "prescription" in order to use their pre-tax flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to pay for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines other than insulin.  Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and industry groups have called for clarification of the new regulations to give providers and retailers an opportunity to educate consumers and develop compliance procedures.

In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Rep. Pomeroy encouraged the Treasury "…to work with consumers and stakeholders to address certain compliance issues in advance of the mandated implementation date."  Without clarifying the policy, "…consumers are left confused and frustrated and benefit administrators and retail merchants will be left with increased processing and consumer service costs," wrote Rep. Pomeroy.  

An industry group responsible for establishing standards for electronic payment processing for health spending accounts, such as those used to identify eligible OTC purchases, argues additional guidance is needed to clarify how the new regulations will work in practice before it can be implemented.  The law currently states that only "prescribed" OTC drugs are eligible for reimbursement; however, it does not specify whether a prescription is requir
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