Washington, D.C., Jun 7 -
Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08), a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, today voted to pass the Health Care Cost Reduction Act, H.R. 436, which passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. H.R. 436 repeals two elements of the health care law: the medical device excise tax and the ban prohibiting the use of health-related savings accounts to purchase over-the-counter medicines. The latter is similar to an element in legislation introduced by Rep. Reichert, the Restoring Assistance for Families and Seniors Health Expenses Act. The bill passed today also contains a provision allowing participants to keep unused funds in their Flexible Savings Accounts instead of forfeiting the balance at the end of the year.
"Today marks an important step forward in improving health care for all Americans and protecting medical innovation and jobs in the United States. This package of bills returns choices to patients and eliminates job killing taxes on companies."
The over-the-counter limitation applies to any American with a health-related savings account, including a Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Savings Arrangement (FSA), Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) or Medical Savings Account (MSA). 33 million Americans are in families with FSAs and 13.5 million Americans are currently enrolled in an HSA.
"The ban on purchasing over-the-counter medications limits Americans' choices to using more expensive options such as seeking a prescription or suffering needlessly by going without any treatment for common ailments, " said Reichert. "I regularly hear from constituents who are confused as to why their health care plan has changed for the worse after they were promised they could keep the plan they liked. Many Americans rely on easy access to over-the-counter medicines and I have no doubt that repealing the measure will decrease the burden on working families' already stretched finances."
The medical device tax is a 2.3% tax on sales of medical devices by manufacturers or importers. More than 400,000 Americans are directly employed by the industry, which generates approximately $25 billion in annual payroll and invests nearly $10 billion in research and development annually. The tax could result in the loss of 43,000 American jobs, including over 8,700 jobs in Washington State.
"The medical device tax affects not only patients who rely on these devices, but could cost thousands of American jobs, hurt small business and threaten America's leadership in innovation," continued Reichert. "This is as much a tax on job creators as it is on those Americans who rely on their products.
"I am proud to do everything in my power so that the promises made to working families, to disabled Americans, to retirees and to all Americans are kept: affordable health care, efficient health care and the health care plan that they want. I applaud my colleagues in the House of Representatives for passing the Health Care Cost Reduction Act."
The measures to repeal the medical device tax and the ban of purchasing over-the-counter medications are additional major repealed elements of the government takeover of health care. Previous repeals include the 1099 requirement, the CLASS Act, and most recently the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
Congressman Reichert is the author of the Restoring Assistance for Families' and Seniors' Health Expenses Act, H.R. 450, which repeals the provision within the health care overhaul law that prohibits holders of Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) from using money from their accounts to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medications. H.R. 450 also restores the medical expenses deduction to 7.5% of taxable income and repeals the $2,500 cap placed on FSAs beginning in 2013.
Reichert was appointed to the House Committee on Ways and Means on January 6, 2009. In 2011, he joined the Subcommittee on Health which includes in its jurisdiction programs such as Medicare that provide payments for health care, health delivery systems, and health research.
Read this original document at: http://reichert.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=298914