Posted by: danielrashke | September 21, 2009

Amendments Come Fast and Furious

On Saturday morning the Senate Finance Committee posted a list of amendments to the America’s Healthy Future Act it released last week.  In total, there were more than 500 amendments.  Roughly 18 of the amendments related to our industry, and all of the 18 — which were proposed by Democrats and Republicans alike — are seen as very positive for our industry and for employers and employees who benefit from these types of Plans.  The amendments include proposals to increase the cap on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), to set-up better indexing of the cap, and to retain the tax deductions for over-the-counter medications.  Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and the Senate Finance Committee expect to begin deliberations on the Act later this week.

  Here is a sampling of some of the proposed amendments:

  • Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) proposed increasing the FSA cap to $3,000 and applying the same index to the FSA cap as that applied to the threshold for the excise tax.
  • Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) proposed increasing the FSA cap to $3,000 as well.
  • Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) proposed increasing the FSA cap to $5,000 and allowing for the rollover of unused funds.
  • Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ), John Ensign (R-NV), and John Cornyn (R-TX) all proposed eliminating the cap on FSAs.
  • Both Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jim Bunning (R-KY) want to amend the bill so that over-the-counter medications qualify as medical expenses.
  • Hatch and Roberts also want to amend the bill to exclude FSAs from determination of threshold for excise tax.

As you can see, both Republicans and Democrats are proposing amendments, and so far all of the proposals are favorable from our standpoint.  Perhaps the real message here is that we are still along way from this becoming law.  The bill is moving through the process and will likely undergo a lot of changes before it hits the President’s desk.  Stay tuned…


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