House passes ‘menstrual equality’ measure to allow tampon, pad purchases with health spending accounts
The House on Friday passed a bill allowing women to buy menstrual hygiene products with pre-tax money from health flexible spending accounts.
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) pushed for the legislation as part of her ongoing “fight for menstrual equality.”
“Menstrual hygiene products are essential and necessary for women, and deserve to be items that are permitted to be purchased with health flexible spending account funds,” Meng said in a Friday statement. “There is no reason why menstrual products should not be included, and I am thrilled that we are on the path to finally changing that wrongheaded policy.”
Meng’s provision to the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act established health flexible spending account funds that can be used on all products related to menstruation, including tampons, pads, liners, cups, sponges and other similar products.
The spending accounts will let individuals use pre-tax dollars out of their paychecks to pay for the expenses, according to her statement.
The House has passed my legislation that would allow menstrual hygiene products to be purchased with money from health flexible spending accounts. Major leap forward in our fight for menstrual equality! https://t.co/vLEQbPwotv #MenstruationMatters
— Grace Meng (@RepGraceMeng) July 27, 2018
The lawmaker called the legislation a “major leap forward” in the fight for menstrual equality.
“It brings us another step closer towards making menstrual hygiene products more accessible and affordable to women,” Meng said in the statement.
Meng and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) have requested that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) make feminine hygiene products available for free in all House bathrooms.
Maloney tried to get the tampons purchased in his office for female visitors and staff reimbursed by the House last month, however, that request was denied.
Maloney took to Twitter to note that congressional funds can be used on “executive tissue holders,” “embellished letter openers” and “brass bookends,” but not tampons.
Things you can buy with Congressional funds:
✅”executive tissue holders”
✅embellished letter openers
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) June 28, 2018
Maloney’s office was later flooded with hundreds of donations of tampons, some of which he gave away to other lawmakers’ offices.
Meng is sponsoring the Menstrual Equity for All Act, which would require certain groups of girls and women to have access to the products.
Meng, according to her statement, successfully convinced the Federal Emergency Management Agency to add feminine care products to the list of items made available to homeless assistance providers.
Menstrual products are now also reportedly available for free to female inmates following Meng’s lobbying of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.