Dietary Supplements and Healthcare Reform

Red Yeast Rice Extract

Red Yeast Rice Extract dietary supplement is helpful for reducing cholesterol.

A significant theme within the ACA is the emphasis on the prevention of diseases. From no charge preventive office visits to grants for wellness projects, reducing the long term expenditures on chronic illnesses in the United States is prominent in the bill.

Several people I know, who are adamant against taking pharmaceutical prescription medications, have asked me if there is any support for natural remedies and dietary supplements in the Healthcare Reform provisions. I have found minimal references to dietary supplements but they may prove important down the road.

Under one section for medication management (1), there are provisions that allow programs that include pharmacists, to assess, review, and track people with chronic illnesses taking 4 or more medications. These medications may include over-the-counter dietary supplements. While this doesn’t necessarily address the healthy person taking dietary supplements to maintain their health, we might see some good data supporting dietary supplements come out of the programs.

Another reference to dietary supplements can be found in a provision that establishes demonstration wellness projects for at-risk populations(2). These pilot programs would create individual wellness programs for people who use community health centers. In addition to nutritional counseling, physical activity recommendations, the individual plans may included, “(v) Dietary supplements that have health claims approved by the Secretary.”

Another issue is whether dietary or nutritional supplements can be deducted from individual taxes. For the most part they can not. The one caveat is if they have been recommended by a physician to treat or avoid a medical condition. For most people, even the expenditures on regular prescription drugs do not accumulate enough dollars to be itemized as a deduction. The alternative is establishing a Health Savings Account (HSA) from which you pay for approved medical expenses. The purchases, per say, are not deductible on your Federal taxes, but the contributions you make to the HSA are.

Nutritional Supplements IRS Publication 502


You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of nutritional supplements, vitamins, herbal supplements, “natural medicines,” etc. unless they are recommended by a medical practitioner as treatment for a specific medical condition diagnosed by a physician. Otherwise, these items are taken to maintain your ordinary good health, and are not for medical care.

For instance, I was recommended by my physician to take a combination of fish oil and red yeast rice extract to lower my cholesterol. We wanted to try the dietary supplements before moving onto pharmaceutical statins like Lipitor. With an HSA, I could have paid for supplements out of the account under the IRS guidelines.

Even though the ACA is not chalk full of support for diet supplements, there is hope that through good data and tracking, the traditional medical establishment may reach for the natural remedy more easily than just writing a prescription for pharmaceutical medications.


‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary, acting through the Patient

Safety Research Center established in section 933 (referred to in

this section as the ‘Center’), shall establish a program to provide

grants or contracts to eligible entities to implement medication

management (referred to in this section as ‘MTM’) services provided

by licensed pharmacists, as a collaborative, multidisciplinary,

inter-professional approach to the treatment of chronic diseases for

targeted individuals, to improve the quality of care and reduce

overall cost in the treatment of such diseases. The Secretary shall

commence the program under this section not later than May 1,



‘‘(d) TARGETED INDIVIDUALS.—MTM services provided by licensed

pharmacists under a grant or contract awarded under subsection

(a) shall be offered to targeted individuals who—

‘‘(1) take 4 or more prescribed medications (including overthe-

counter medications and dietary supplements)



‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall establish a pilot

program to test the impact of providing at-risk populations

who utilize community health centers funded under this section

an individualized wellness plan that is designed to reduce

risk factors for preventable conditions as identified by a comprehensive

risk-factor assessment.

‘‘(2) AGREEMENTS.—The Secretary shall enter into agreements

with not more than 10 community health centers funded

under this section to conduct activities under the pilot program

under paragraph (1).


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June 9, 2010

503 PPACA (Consolidated) Sec. 4207

‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—An individualized wellness plan

prepared under the pilot program under this subsection

may include one or more of the following as appropriate to

the individual’s identified risk factors:

‘‘(i) Nutritional counseling.

‘‘(ii) A physical activity plan.

‘‘(iii) Alcohol and smoking cessation counseling

and services.

‘‘(iv) Stress management.

‘‘(v) Dietary supplements that have health claims

approved by the Secretary.

‘‘(vi) Compliance assistance provided by a community

health center employee.

‘‘(B) RISK FACTORS.—Wellness plan risk factors shall


‘‘(i) weight;

‘‘(ii) tobacco and alcohol use;

‘‘(iii) exercise rates;

‘‘(iv) nutritional status; and

‘‘(v) blood pressure.

‘‘(C) COMPARISONS.—Individualized wellness plans

shall make comparisons between the individual involved

and a control group of individuals with respect to the risk

factors described in subparagraph (B).

Download the full version of the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act.[download id=”21″] Approximently 2.75 MB as found on the website.