The House of Representatives passed U.S. Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-Flushing) provisions that would allow menstrual hygiene products to be purchased with money from health flexible spending accounts.
Meng’s legislation was approved last week, as part of the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts, a bipartisan bill that seeks to expand health spending accounts.
“The passage of my legislation is a major leap forward in our fight for menstrual equality,” said Meng, whose bill has been sent to the Senate.“It brings us another step closer towards making menstrual hygiene products more accessible and affordable to women.”
Meng said 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.
Under Meng’s provision, health flexible spending account funds would be allowed to be used for numerous types of menstrual hygiene products such as tampons, pads, liners, cups, sponges, or similar items used by women.
Health flexible spending accounts allow individuals to use pre-tax dollars to pay for eligible health-care expenses. The money in these types of accounts is contributed from an individual’s paycheck, Meng said.
In July, Meng and U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) asked Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (D-Wis.) to allow House offices to be reimbursed for feminine hygiene products purchased for congressional staff and office visitors.
In their correspondence, Meng and Maloney requested that Ryan provide free menstrual hygiene products in all House bathrooms.
In addition to her health flexible spending account legislation, Meng has authored the Menstrual Equity for All Act, which seeks to help different populations of women and girls better access menstrual hygiene products. The Menstrual Equity for All Act is pending before the House Ways and Means Committee. She has also authored the Menstrual Products Right to Know Act, which aims to improve the safety of menstrual hygiene products. It is currently pending before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.
The congresswoman has also convinced FEMA to add menstrual hygiene products to the list of items that homeless assistance providers can purchase with federal grant funds, and as a result of her efforts, the Federal Bureau of Prisons agreed to provide female inmates with menstrual products free of charge.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha
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