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Dentistry coalition, AAO ask Congress to reform flexible spending account rules

March 04, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The American Association of Orthodontists, ADA and members of the Organized Dentistry Coalition are asking Congress to support legislation calling for the repeal of the "use-it-or-lose-it" rule for flexible spending accounts, allowing consumers to build balances over several years.

The RAISE Act, or Responsible Additions and Increases to Sustain Employee Health Benefits Act of 2019, would significantly expand the current flexible spending account annual contribution cap to $5,000. This would allow families with more than two dependents to save an additional $500 a year for each additional dependent.

Flexible spending accounts — commonly known as FSAs — enable consumers to set aside pretax dollars to pay for health care services and items that are not covered by insurance such as vision and dental services, doctor copayments, prescription drugs.

Currently, the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule restricts families from carrying over the full balance in these savings accounts from one year to the next.

The bipartisan RAISE Act was reintroduced in the 116th Congress by Reps. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, and Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, and Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. In a March 1 letter to the Senate Committee on Finance and House Committee on Ways and Means, the coalition, led by the American Association of Orthodontists, urged legislators to overturn this rule. 

In a statement from AAO President Brent Larson, the organization noted that approximately 63 percent of the association’s members’ patients use FSAs for their orthodontic services. Raising the contribution cap to $5,000 would allow more families to save for planned or long-term medical needs, AAO said.

“The over 9,000 U.S. members of the AAO are encouraged that elements of the RAISE Act passed the House last summer, and we strongly encourage the 116th Congress to finish the job and give consumers greater control of their family’s health care spending,” Dr. Larson said.

“[W]e urge this Congress to finish the job and give families more flexibility in planning for their health care expenses,” the ODC letter concluded. 

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