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Ways and Means panel mulls ACA coverage for OTC medicines

The House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee on April 25 considered a billion provision sic. 9003) in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that prohibits using certain tax-favored spending plans to reimburse taxpayers for the cost of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. GOP lawmakers said requiring taxpayers to visit a doctor is tantamount to a tax increase that would clog physicians’ offices, thereby reducing health care access for millions of American families. The provision, which was intended to improve tax compliance and reform tax expenditures, was first suggested by the Joint Committee on Taxation in 2005, subcommittee Democrats countered. The provision took effect on January 1, 2011.

Charles Boustany (R-La) said, in his opening statement, that the Act “required that consumers using tax-advantaged plans must first obtain a doctor’s prescription in order to use their tax-preferred account funds to purchase over-the-counter medication. This provision alone is a $5 billion tax increase on the American people.”

Scott Millivolt, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group, testified that using flexible spending arrangements and health savings accounts to pay for OTC. medicines could eliminate about 20 million office visits each year and save about $5 billion in health care costs. Millivolt said there is no medical justification for requiring an office visit before buying OTC medicines with a spending plan.

However, Paul N. Van De Water, a Senior Fellow of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the use of tax-advantaged accounts encourages the overconsumption of health care. The accounts make taxpayers less price-sensitive and reduce the effects of the cost-sharing requirement in controlling utilization, he testified.

Mandatory vaccination rule for healthcare workers is facially neutral, does not single out religious objectors

October 22nd, 2021

By Jeffrey H. Brochin, J.D.
The First Circuit has affirmed a district court’s order denying a preliminary injunction to several Maine healthcare workers and a healthcare provider who filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin the State of Maine from enforcing its emergency vaccination rule. The rule mandates that all state healthcare workers be vaccinated against COVID-19, [Read more...]

Hotel association challenges New York City’s new pandemic severance law

October 18th, 2021

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.
The Hotel Association of New York City has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city challenging an October 5, 2021, law requiring hotel owners to pay $500 in weekly severance to hotel employees who were laid off due to hotel closures or “mass layoffs,” for up to 30 weeks, unless the [Read more...]

Because bonuses did not preclude use of fluctuating workweek method, overtime award reversed

October 15th, 2021

By Marjorie Johnson, J.D.
Reversing a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of an employee alleging he was denied overtime pay in violation of the FLSA, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that the employer’s practice of paying salaried nonexempt employees two types of bonuses—a night shift premium and holiday pay—on top of a fixed salary [Read more...]

Class certification granted for American Airlines pilots on USERRA, breach-of-contract claims

October 14th, 2021

By Tulay Turan, J.D.
A federal district court in Pennsylvania granted a pilot’s motion for certification of a class action under Rule 23(b)(2), alleging violations of USERRA and breach of contract by American Airlines. The court certified a class of current and former American Airlines pilots, divided into three subclasses, seeking to enjoin the company from [Read more...]

Education and Labor Committee analysis fleshes out Build Back Better Act’s child care savings

October 12th, 2021

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.
A new state-by-state analysis released by the House Education and Labor Committee finds that the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376) could significantly lower child care costs for American families in all 50 states, with a typical family of four using center-based child care saving thousands of dollars each year. Lowering the cost [Read more...]