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Save Flexible Spending Plans Applauds Amendment to Protect Flexible Spending Accounts

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 Health Insurance News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 Save Flexible Spending Plans, a national grassroots organization dedicated to protecting flexible spending accounts (FSAs), praised Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) for filing an amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that would help protect the future use and value of FSAs. The amendment, filed yesterday afternoon, would adjust for inflation the currently pending $2,500 cap on FSAs, helping to ensure that participants will be able to meet their out-of-pocket health care needs over time.

"We are encouraged that Sen. Schumer filed an amendment to protect FSAs, a benefit relied upon by more than 35 million working American families to manage and hold down their health care costs," said Joe Jackson, chairman of Save Flexible Spending Plans and CEO of WageWorks Inc., a benefits company based in San Mateo, CA. "Without indexing the $2,500 contribution cap for inflation, millions of participants, including those battling chronic illnesses, will see the value of their FSAs quickly erode. The Schumer amendment would solve this problem, ensuring that access to FSAs stays in line with increasing costs. Filing of the amendment further acknowledges the importance and support in the Senate for preserving FSAs as a valuable cost-saving benefit."

Failing to adjust the contribution cap for inflation, as had been crafted in legislation passed by the House of Representatives, will cause the value of a $2,500 FSA to plummet to less than half its worth within a decade.

"Following the September introduction of Sen. Baucus' (D-MT) health care reform legislation, Senate Finance Committee members from both parties offered amendments to protect FSAs," added Jackson. "We are hopeful that once again, Senators from both sides of the aisle will sign on in support of the Schumer amendment and his solution that is critical to protecting FSAs."

Beyond the need to adjust the contribution cap for inflation, there are still concerns about the unreasonably low amount of the cap, which has been proposed. The restrictions will force approximately 7 million hard-working Americans who use their FSAs to pay for out-of-pocket health care expenses greater than $2,500 to pay higher taxes and health care costs. Federal employees who currently enjoy a $5,000 limit on FSA contributions will see their access to FSAs cut in half. Additionally, state employees in 46 states who currently have FSA contribution limits set at $3,000 or more will be negatively impacted. Sadly, those with the highest out-of-pocket health care costs - the sickest - will be hit the hardest by restrictions on FSA use.

About Flexible Spending Accounts

Flexible spending accounts are voluntary, account-based plans that enable millions of Americans to use pre-tax dollars to pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care expenses like prescription drug co-pays, vision and dental costs, office visits and medical supplies.

Most FSA participants are middle income Americans, earning approximately $55,000 annually. Currently, limits on contributions to FSAs are set by individual employers.

Individuals and families with chronic illnesses typically receive the most benefit from FSAs. Even when they are insured, they incur annual out-of-pocket expenses averaging $4,398 per year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found - well above the proposed limit. Approximately 44 percent of Americans have one or more chronic conditions.

About Save Flexible Spending Plans

Save Flexible Spending Plans is a national grassroots advocacy organization that protects against the restricted use of flexible spending accounts in health care reform efforts. The campaign is sponsored by the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC), www.ecfc.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to the maintenance and expansion of private employee benefit programs on a tax-advantaged basis. To learn more, take action and read the personal stories of FSA participants, please visit www.savemyflexplan.org.

SOURCE Save Flexible Spending Plans
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