Senators Mike Lee and Tim Scott introduced an amendment during the Senate Budget Resolution hearing that would expand health savings accounts (HSA), health reimbursement arrangements, and flexible spending accounts (FSA) to cover dietary supplements.
Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) introduced an amendment during the Senate Budget Resolution hearing that would expand health savings accounts (HSA), health reimbursement arrangements, and flexible spending accounts (FSA) to cover dietary supplements. Amendment 253 mirrors a bill introduced by Senator Kevin Cramer (R- North Dakota).
The amendment reads: “The Chairman of the Committee on the Budget of the Senate may revise the allocations of a committee or committees, aggregates, and other appropriate levels in this resolution, and make adjustments to the pay-as-you-go ledger, for one or more bills, joint resolutions, amendments, amendments between the Houses, motions, or conference reports relating to expansion of health savings accounts to include dietary supplements as a qualified medical expense by the amounts provided in such legislation for those purposes, provided that such legislation would not increase the deficit over either the period of the total of fiscal years 2021 through 2025 or the period of the total of fiscal years 2021 through 2030.”
Urging his colleagues to support the amendment, Senator Lee stated, “The expansion of the use of health savings accounts could be encouraged by allowing any health insurance plan to be considered HAS eligible by increasing the maximum HAS contributions and by allowing for more preventative and health maintenance expenses to be covered, including the use of dietary supplements…This would not directly affect Obamacare and expanding HSAs would give Americans more opportunities and would bring down costs while increasing the quality of healthcare they receive.”
This expansion is part of an ongoing grass roots campaign by the Natural Products Association (NPA; Washington, D.C.) whose broader goal is to expand access to nutritional supplements for all communities through the tax code and assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Placing greater urgency on the importance of nutrient supplementation, there is also mounting evidence suggesting that deficiencies in vitamins such as vitamin D may impact the severity of COVID-19 illness.
“We very much appreciate the leadership of Senators Lee, Cramer, and Scott in this critical area. A proposal such as this one ensures all Americans, including our most vulnerable have equal access to supplements,” said Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of NPA, in a press release. “Expanding access to supplements benefits everyone, not only as we turn the corner in this pandemic but also in the long run. We urge our members to contact their elected officials and let them know how important this common-sense change is to the health of millions of Americans.”
The amendment was agreed upon with 53 in favor and 47 in opposition, and was one of the few GOP amendments not to be defeated. Early Friday morning on February 5th, the Senate passed the budget resolution, bringing the Senate one step closer to passing a sweeping COVID-19 relief package.