RESOLUTION 2011-15

Revoke the Medicare Low-Vision Device Exclusion Rule

AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
RESOLUTION 2011-15

SUMMARY:

This organization advocates for the prompt enactment of federal legislation to vacate the CMS regulation barring coverage for all low-vision devices employing lenses and to establish clear coverage criteria for the fullest possible Medicare reimbursement for low-vision devices.

WHEREAS, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule in November 2008, which unreasonably applies the Medicare statute's exclusion of coverage for eyeglasses and contact lenses to prohibit coverage for all low-vision devices; and

WHEREAS, this unacceptable regulation specifically provides that all devices, irrespective of their size, form or technological features, that use one or more lenses to aid vision are to be excluded from coverage under Medicare; and

WHEREAS, this interpretation of the so-called eyeglass exclusion prevents Medicare beneficiaries with vision loss from benefiting from the use of medically necessary low-vision devices which would have allowed them to read prescriptions and other materials containing content vital to their personal health and safety; and

WHEREAS, people on fixed incomes, including many seniors and people with disabilities, often find the cost of low-vision devices prohibitive and are therefore not able to purchase them; and

WHEREAS, the expansion of the statutory eyeglass exclusion to bar any technology that uses one or more lenses for the primary purpose of aiding vision is discriminatory and unwarranted public policy which will serve as a disincentive to researchers and innovators in the development of new and progressive technologies that maximize the use of residual vision; and

WHEREAS, prior to the issuance of the regulation, it was clearly demonstrated that a small number of consumers who went through a lengthy appeals process could occasionally be approved for a CCTV magnifier or similar device; and

WHEREAS, given the small number of durable medical equipment appeals that were approved, the adoption of this new interpretation of the regulation is capricious, arbitrary, and unjust;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled at the John Ascuaga Nugget Hotel Resort and Casino in Sparks, Nev. on the 15th day of July, 2011, that this organization advocate for the prompt enactment of federal legislation to vacate the CMS regulation barring coverage for all low-vision devices employing lenses and to establish clear coverage criteria for the fullest possible Medicare reimbursement for low-vision devices.

Adopted.

Marlaina Lieberg, Secretary