HEALTH

What the AHCA could mean for the OTC business

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — One significant provision in the American Health Care Act allows for broader use of Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Savings Accounts to pay for OTC products, which in turn could create a greater demand for more affordable self-care solutions.

"First and foremost, we were able to get into motion a very important, consumer-friendly provision that [would reverse] taking OTCs out of the offering in HSAs and FSAs," Mike Tringale, senior director communications for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, told Drug Store News. "[Restoring OTC eligibility] was a top priority."

And while there is not any guarantee the healthcare legislation will survive Senate review fully intact, restoring OTC eligibility under HSAs and FSAs is likely to be in any final bill. "[This legislation] was a reaffirmation that there are huge pressures on healthcare costs," noted Ed Rowland, principle of OTC consultant firm Rowland Global. "Self-diagnosis and  self-medication will continue to be goals which can and should gain bipartisan support," he said. "I would predict more support for returning OTCs to HSA eligibility."

In addition to making OTC purchases eligible under HSAs and FSAs, the AHCA would nearly double annual HSA contribution limits above current contribution limits and allow spouses age 55 or older to make catch-up contributions to the same HSA. Similarly, the legislation would remove the limit on the amount an employee may contribute to a health FSA, which stands at $2,600 for 2017.

There may also be a repeal of the "Cadillac tax" and other levies on employer plans, noted Jeremy Miller, CEO and founder FSAStore.com/HSAstore.com. The ACA imposed a 40% excise tax on the value of employer-sponsored health plans exceeding $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for family coverage, he explained. "We've been actively trying to take HSA and FSA out of that threshold," Miller told Drug Store News. "We felt we were using an employee's tax-free dollars, so why should there be a tax on what employees put into their accounts?"

"We're bullish on what's going to happen with these accounts," Miller added. "We see them as the 401Ks of healthcare."

Since OTC eligibility under HSAs and FSAs was first lost in 2011 with the passing of the Affordable Care Act, CHPA has been working hard to communicate the value that OTC medicines represent to Americans.

According to a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CHPA, the majority of Americans (75%) favor including OTCs in FSAs and HSAs. "At a time when more and more Americans are exercising these vital HSA and FSA benefits, this is a common-sense fix for many families who rely on non-prescription OTC medicines to treat common ailments such as allergies, cough and colds, or pain," CHPA's president and CEO Scott Melville stated in March.

 

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NPA: Congress asks Institute of Medicine to investigate expanding WIC access to vitamins

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Natural Products Association commended the U.S. House on Thursday for urging the Institute of Medicine to investigate expanding access to vitamins for low-income mothers and children. The provision is included in the House Agriculture Committee's FY 2017 appropriations bill report.

"If school cafeterias are allowed to serve things like french fries and pizza, we think it is reasonable to find a way for mothers and fathers to purchase items that can support their children's health," stated Dan Fabricant, president and CEO NPA. "Expanding WIC to cover supplements would mark a big win for low-income families, and we commend the House for taking this first step in pushing such a common-sense policy stance."

Since 1978, the WIC Supplement Food Program has served low-income, at-risk pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants and children up to age 5. The WIC program provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, healhcare referrals and nutrition education.

NPA pledged to continue its work with Congress in defining the parameters for the inclusion of multivitamins in the WIC program and in the Foot Stamp/SNAP program, which will likely be addressed in the 2018 farm bill to ensure the maximum number of families access their  benefits.

 

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Medline’s latest Curad SoothePlus first aid solution formulated with C&D’s Arm & Hammer

BY Michael Johnsen

NORTHFIELD, Ill. — Medline on Friday announced the launch of Curad SoothePlus, a bandage solution that features the benefits of Church & Dwight's Arm & Hammer baking soda to provide an extra level of care. These wound care product offerings go beyond the basics and cover particularly large, troublesome and difficult to bandage wounds while helping dressings stay clean and fresh.

“First aid can be confusing. But before you grab and go from the wall of options, remember that all bandages are not the same,” stated Martie Moore, chief nursing officer, Curad, and advisor to the American Nurses Foundation. “Baking soda is naturally known to soothe minor irritations, and is an option to consider to neutralize and relieve stings and provide relief."

Curad SoothePlus is now available at Meijer and will soon be offered at Kroger, Rite Aid, H-E-B and Publix stores this spring, Medline announced.

 

 

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