The bill, which was cosponsored by US Representative John Curtis, R-UT and Josh Gottheimer, D-NJ, would allow consumers who are putting before-tax funds into Health Savings Accounts to use those funds for the purchase of dietary supplements. The bill is denominated as HR 5214.
Currently HSA funds can only be used for approved health care costs such as doctor’s visits and hospital co-pays, medications and medical devices. That eligibility was extended in 2020 to OTC drugs and feminine care products.
Bill runs in parallel with Senate measure
The new House bill mirrors in many ways a bill introduced into the Senate in May by Sen. Ken Cramer, R-ND. Cramer’s bill would also funds from flexible spending accounts (FSA), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs to be used for this purpose. Cramer has introduced similar legislation before.
Dan Fabricant, PhD and Kyle Turk of the Natural Products Association said that information arising from the pandemic, as well as more familiarity with HSAs, could improve the measure’s chances over earlier iterations.
“If you are going to give OTC products the OK, why not vote for vitamin D and zinc,” Fabricant said. Fabricant is NPA’s president and CEO.
Dietary supplements retailer Natural Grocers said interest in those two ingredients will remain high throughout 2021.
HSA idea is maturing
Turk, who is NPA’s director of government affairs, said HSAs have been viewed with suspicion in the past by some members of the Democratic Party as being stalking horses for the privatization of health care. He said having bipartisan support for this bill means it is an idea whose time may finally have arrived.
“We see this as the maturation of the HSA idea over time. More and more employers are offering this benefit, and more people are enrolled and using HSAs,” Turk said.
“We have we have bicameral bills and bipartisan support for this bill, and in that way we hope to get more Democrats involved. That’s the most exciting part of what happened today,” Turk said.