S. 312 - The “Patients’ Freedom to Choose Act of 2011”
The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senate
Dear Senator Hutchison:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the
interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and
region, thanks you for introducing S. 312, the “Patients’ Freedom to Choose Act of 2011,” which
would repeal limitations on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending
Arrangements (FSAs) included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The
Chamber strongly supports consumer-driven health options like HSAs and FSAs, and urges
Congress to enact legislation that promotes these and other strategies to put patients in the
driver’s seat in dealing with health care costs.
This legislation would eliminate two provisions that were included in PPACA, both of
which made consumer-driven health options less useful to consumers. The first is a ban on the
use of tax-free HSA and FSA funds to purchase over-the-counter products without a prescription,
and the second is a hard cap of $2,500 on FSA contributions. These changes may have produced
revenue on paper, but they are both counterproductive in trying to bend the health care costcurve
and get costs under control.
The ability of consumers to use tax-free health care funds to purchase products that have
been deregulated is a net positive for health care costs; it eliminates the need for unnecessary
visits to providers and empowers consumers. Taking this freedom away from consumers was a
step in the wrong direction. Similarly, it should be within the prerogative of the consumer to
determine how much to invest in an FSA, not the government. In restoring these freedoms, S. 312
would put the power back into the hands of Americans, and promote policies that lead to
more consumer engagement and eventually to getting a better handle on health care costs.
The Chamber appreciates your continuing efforts to promote free-market health care
solutions and looks forward to working with you to enact this legislation.
R. Bruce Josten