Members of the Senate have started the process of considering H.R. 436, the Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012 bill.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., rose on the floor of the Senate Monday to introduce the bill by asking for its first reading and asking for a second reading.
The Senate gave the bill its second reading today. Someone objected to the bill. Under Senate Rule XIV, the next step is for Senate leaders to decide which committees will consider the bill.
The bill started life as a measure that would repeal an excise tax on medical device sales. The tax would be imposed by a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
H.R. 436 now includes a number of provisions related to flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (FSAs), including one that would eliminate the current requirement that holders of FSAs forfeit any unused account balance at the end of the plan year.
In addition to eliminating the FSA “use it or lose it” rule, the bill would restore FSA and HSA holders’ ability to use account assets to pay for over-the-counter drugs without getting a prescription from the doctor. Lawmakers included the provision in PPACA in an effort to increase federal income tax revenue.
The White House has said that President Obama likely would veto H.R. 436 if it reaches his desk, but the bill has attracted support from Democrats as well as Republicans. Last week, when the House passed the bill, 37 Democrats crossed party lines to vote for it.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he has no plans to let the measure come up for a vote in the Senate.
“Can’t the Republicans find a new script, rather than trying to attack the health care bill?” Reid reportedly told Bloomberg last week. “That’s all that is.”