ACB Welcomes Reintroduction of Medicare Demonstration Bill
For Immediate Release
Anthony Stephens, Director of Advocacy & Governmental Affairs
WASHINGTON, April 7, 2017 — The American Council of the Blind (ACB) commends Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Steve Cohen (D-TN) on reintroduction of the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage of Low-Vision Devices Act of 2017 (H.R. 2050). This legislation will establish a national demonstration/research project tasked with identifying the impact to Medicare and Medicare recipients who are prescribed low-vision devices over a certain threshold cost.
“As more and more older Americans encounter significant vision loss, it’s critical that government seek out pathways that can sustain independence in the home,” said Kim Charlson, president of ACB. “The more we can sustain independence for daily living, the less reliant individuals with significant vision loss will be on more costly alternatives like assistive living.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ruled almost a decade ago, through an eye-glasses exclusion, that Medicare would no longer cover low-vision devices. The rule raised great concerns among blindness advocates, who argue the significant rise in visual disability among the Baby Boomer generation requires measures that will help them age in place, rather than find themselves on a pathway toward costly care-giving services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through its Vision Health Initiative, has identified blindness and vision loss as a serious health concern for the United States over the next three decades.
“Through this demonstration, eligible participants could be prescribed assistive low-vision devices through a licensed eyecare physician,” said Eric Bridges, ACB executive director. “These are the types of devices that might be too costly for someone on Social Security, but the kind of things that could have dramatic improvements in their daily life, like being able to read their mail, keep track of their medications, or fill out important forms with personal information.”
As Congress seeks out ways to improve health care costs, ACB urges the House of Representatives to support H.R. 2050, and move toward expanding greater independence for the millions of older Americans with severe vision loss. To learn more about this important issue, visit http://acb.org/content/2017-acb-legislative-imperatives.
The American Council of the Blind is the nation’s leading consumer grassroots organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired. ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all people who are blind and visually impaired. Learn more at www.acb.org.