There are more than 20 million Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) in America. These accounts are tax-advantaged ways to put money aside in order to cover medical expenses.

The stronger these accounts, the better hard-working Americans are able to plan for the future and avoid worrying about unexpected healthcare costs. Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act’s regulations are getting in the way of folks trying to use their HSAs and FSAs.


This Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on legislation I introduced to remedy the situation. My bill, H.R. 1270, the Restoring Access to Medication Act, repeals a provision of the Affordable Care Act that prevents Americans with these accounts from using them to pay for over-the-counter medication.

What does that all mean?

Well, simply put, the Affordable Care Act’s regulations changed the law to require people to get a prescription from their doctors to use their HSAs and FSAs for over-the-counter medication. Unsurprisingly, this means increased costs as hard-working people are forced into an unnecessary visit to their doctor just to be able to use their own money to buy things like cold medication. Additionally, doctors are also spending time dealing with patients that are only there to get a straightforward prescription – meaning less time to spend with the patients who truly need it.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe the Affordable Care Act is a good solution or a scary turn down the wrong path – it is clear that this new rule bizarrely and ineffectively gets in the way of Americans just trying to take control of their own healthcare costs.

This legislation is bipartisan, and is supported by numerous healthcare-focused organizations. It is based on common sense principles. And it would put healthcare cost management back where it belongs - in the hands of the people actually spending the money.

The usability of HSAs and FSAs is not a small issue, and these accounts have lost some of their usefulness under the new law, but my bill would fix that, helping tens of millions people in the process.

As a Congress, we need to work towards solutions based on patient-centric healthcare. That idea is a huge part of the Better Way agenda, and helps shape our legislative ideas. At the end of the day, there is only one person who truly understands the patient’s healthcare needs and priorities – that is the patient themselves. My legislation is a great step towards restoring access to medication for Americans, and restoring healthcare control to patients. In short, it is an idea that everyone, everywhere can get behind.

Rep. Jenkins represents Kansas' 2nd District.