Save Flexible Spending Plans, a national grassroots organization dedicated to protecting flexible spending accounts (FSAs), today launched a new campaign, “Ten Before Ten,” that encourages Americans to voice their support for protecting the cost-saving benefit by sending 10,000 emails to their senators before the start of 2010. The campaign coincides with the Senate’s consideration of legislative provisions that would significantly restrict the use of FSAs to help fund a portion of health reform, as well as an amendment filed by Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) to adjust for inflation a proposed cap on FSA contributions. In a demonstration of the support for protecting FSAs, more than 50,000 emails have been sent by supporters to Congress and the Obama Administration since the launch of Save Flexible Spending Plans in July 2009.
“Now is a critical time for consumers to take action to protect their FSAs as the Senate considers pending provisions that would significantly restrict access to the benefit through a contribution cap and an amendment offered by Senator Schumer that makes sure the cap is indexed with inflation,” said Joe Jackson, chairman of Save Flexible Spending Plans and CEO of WageWorks Inc., a benefits company based in San Mateo, California. “If the Senate fails to increase the proposed cap on FSA contributions and, at a minimum, index the cap to inflation, millions of Americans will face higher taxes, increased health care costs and a reduction in the value of this cost-saving benefit.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, pending in the Senate, includes a $2,500 annual cap on FSA contributions, which unlike in legislation approved by the House of Representatives, is not designed to adjust with inflation. An amendment (SA 2993) filed earlier this week by Sen. Schumer would resolve this problem by indexing the cap, ensuring that access to FSAs stay in line with increasing costs. Failing to adjust the contribution cap will cause the value of a $2,500 FSA to plummet to less than half its worth within a decade.
“Everyone that has come to rely on their FSA to hold down their health care costs has something at stake and should take the time to learn more and get involved in encouraging the Senate to protect the benefit,” added Jackson. “Our supporters have shown strong opposition to the proposed restrictions, and we hope they will continue to push the Senate to support Senator Schumer’s amendment and preserve this valuable benefit, which has empowered millions to play a more active role in managing their health care and getting the care they need.”
Proposed restrictions on FSAs will force approximately 7 million Americans who use their FSAs to cover out-of-pocket health care expenses greater than $2,500 to pay higher taxes and health care costs. As currently crafted, the Senate legislation will cut in half the $5,000 limit on FSA contributions enjoyed by Federal employees. 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