The coronavirus spending package will provide a variety of types of assistance for average Americans to combat the economic effects of the pandemic – including one policy change benefiting those who get menstrual periods.
The bill will allow people with specific pretax funds for eligible health care-related expenses – health savings accounts, Archer medical savings accounts, health care flexible spending accounts or health reimbursement arrangements – to use the money on menstrual products.
It defines those products as a “tampon, pad, liner, cup, sponge, or similar product,” and covers costs retroactively through January 1, 2020.
Menstrual products are not currently among the items that can be purchased with these accounts, according to a list from the federal government that defines qualifying expenses as “the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.”
“Amounts paid for menstrual care products shall be treated as paid for medical care” for HSAs and Archer MSAs, according to the bill, and for FSAs and HRAs, menstrual product costs “shall be treated as incurred for medical care.”
The provision was part of a wide-ranging bipartisan package negotiated by the Senate Finance Committee that was presented to leadership and included in the bill, a source familiar with the negotiations told CNN on Thursday.
This is not the first time that covering menstrual products under the plans has been floated on Capitol Hill. In July 2018, the then-Republican-controlled House passed a bill that would have designated menstrual products as qualifying medical expenses for pretax health plans.
Democratic Rep. Grace Meng of New York, who sponsored the provision, said at the time that “menstrual hygiene products are essential and necessary for women, and deserve to be items that are permitted to be purchased with health flexible spending account funds. There is no reason why menstrual products should not be included.”
The Senate did not pass the bill in that session.