Axne, Balderson Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Give Families Access to Unused Savings During COVID-19

August 11, 2020
Press Release
The COVID-19 Health and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account Distribution Act allows families to use unspent contributions from two tax-advantaged financial accounts

Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) and Rep. Troy Balderson (OH-12) introduced new bipartisan legislation to offer families another tool to help pay for bills and necessities during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The COVID-19 Health and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account Distribution Act would give families access to unused funds in their health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and dependent care assistance plans (DCAPs) to better afford their expenses during these challenging times.

To address the rising costs of health care and child care, families are increasingly making use of health FSAs and DCAPs, which allow employees to set aside pretax income for qualifying health and child care expenses. Unfortunately, with medical appointments being postponed and child care centers closing due to COVID-19, that money may now be unusable at a time when families need it most. 

The new legislation introduced today would give families access to these much-needed dollars by allowing employees to take a one-time distribution from their health FSA or DCAP. 

“This public health emergency has made family budgeting all the more difficult for Iowans,” said Rep. Axne. “Iowans are seeing scheduled medical procedures postponed and child care centers closed, leaving money they’ve budgeted for future expenses inaccessible when it’s needed to pay the bills today. I’m proud that the legislation I’m introducing today will give Iowa families the flexibility to use this money as they see fit and manage these difficult economic circumstances.”

“Ohioans want to go to bed every night feeling financially secure,” said Rep. Balderson. “This legislation will make a difference in their lives by allowing flexibility to spend restricted dollars to fit their families’ needs without risk of losing their savings at the end of the year, helping cushion any financial strains they may be experiencing.”

The COVID-19 Health and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account Distribution Act has the support of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC), National Taxpayers Union (NTU), National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), and the Self-Insurance Institute of America.

“ECFC supports the legislation introduced by  Rep. Axne and Balderson which addresses the concerns of participants in health FSAs and dependent care assistance FSAs that they be unable to access the amounts that they have already contributed to these plans because of the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing them to take a distribution of the unused amounts in their accounts in these plans,” said Christa Day, Executive Director, Employers Council on Flexible Compensation.

"Countless flexible spending account (FSA) holders could lose their hard-earned dollars due to canceled care during the COVID-19 pandemic. By allowing FSA holders to make a one-time distribution from the unused balance in their account, this legislation could put thousands of dollars back into families’ pockets at a time when they most need the surplus income. National Taxpayers Union applauds Congresswoman Axne's efforts to provide millions of Americans with FSA relief and flexibility in a time of considerable uncertainty for workers and parents everywhere," said Andrew Lautz, Policy and Government Affairs Manager, National Taxpayers Union.

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Rep. Axne has been championing legislation to ensure families do not lose out on hard-earned dollars they’ve contributed to these accounts and that these accounts reflect today’s cost of care.

Last month, the House passed two bipartisan Axne-sponsored bills to strengthen DCAPs as part of the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act.