Alexandria, Va. - July 14, 2011
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) announced its support for H.R. 2529 and S. 1368 "The Restoring Access to Medication Act," legislation introduced today by U.S. Senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) in the Senate and House, respectively. The bill would restore the ability of patients to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medications with pre-tax dollars through flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) without the inconvenience of first having to get a prescription from a doctor's office.
"I have had patients complain about not being able to utilize their accounts for these products as they have in the past," said NCPA Vice President Brian Caswell, PD and owner of Wolkar Drug in Baxter Springs, Kan. "I support this legislation because it will allow my patients to use their tax-preferred accounts on the products they need at our independent pharmacy—without a prescription."
"My patients shouldn't have to call a doctor every time they want to purchase an OTC product under their tax preferred account," said Eric Hamik, RPh of U Save Pharmacy in Kearney, Neb. "I've also had several physicians tell me they are tiring of having to write prescriptions for OTC products. I am very supportive of this legislation which returns the control of the transaction back to the patient where it belongs."
"We want to thank Senators Nelson and Roberts and Representatives Jenkins and Berkley for their leadership on this issue," said NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "We urge Congress to pass these companion bills as quickly as possible."
An estimated 35 million Americans rely on voluntary contributions of pre-tax dollars to FSAs and HSAs for their basic health care needs. Readily available OTC drugs are often used by patients before costlier doctor office visits and treatments, especially during cold and flu season. In supporting the legislation, NCPA is part of a diverse coalition featuring physicians, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers, among others.
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent a $93 billion health-care marketplace, have more than 315,000 employees including 62,400 pharmacists, and dispense over 41% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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