President Barack Obama says he will veto a bill allowing purchases of over-the-counter medications from health savings accounts. Under current law, drug expenses are eligible only if prescribed by a physician.
H.R. 1270, the Restoring Access to Medication Act, which has yet to pass committee, was authored by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and Ron Kind (R-Wis.) and had bipartisan support. The legislation would repeal a section of the Affordable Care Act that prohibits consumers from using the funds in their health savings, flexible spending or health reimbursement accounts to purchase over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or cold medicine.
“Unfortunately, the president's healthcare law adds a burdensome layer of red tape that makes use of these accounts more expensive for consumers and fills doctors' offices with needless visits,” Congresswoman Jenkins said in a statement.
Last year, the CBO estimated that enacting the law would reduce tax revenue by $6.6 billion (PDF)between 2016 and 2025.
The Obama administration claims that H.R. 1270 would create new and unnecessary tax breaks that disproportionately benefit high-income individuals, increase taxes for low- and middle-income people, and do nothing to improve the quality—or address the underlying cost—of healthcare.
It argues that the ACA's provisions that limit the use of flexible savings accounts help fund the law's coverage improvements and expansions. The bill would also provide additional tax breaks that disproportionately benefit those with higher income by expanding tax preferred health savings accounts.
“Rather than refighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle-class families and create new jobs,” White House officials said in a statement.
The bill has 39 co-sponsors all together. The four Democratic supporters are Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).