ACB supports the Medicare Vision Act and urges congress to include it in the upcoming budget reconciliation package. We encourage all our members and friends to contact both their Senators and Representative in support of including H.R. 4187 in the budget reconciliation package.
Currently, Congress is debating a large legislative vehicle that provides an opportunity to go well beyond creating a pilot program to providing vision coverage through Medicare.
As background, one of ACB’s legislative priorities for 2021 is the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act; if passed, this bill would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to conduct a pilot program and report to Congress on the effectiveness of providing low vision device coverage of items including but not limited to: video magnifiers, magnifiers, telescopes, and other devices designed to aid individuals with low vision in accessing information and performing daily living activities.
ACB, along with the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (ITEM) Coalition is currently working with Congress, including the House Ways and Means Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Congressional Vision Caucus, to include a Medicare vision benefit in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package being considered by Congress. The legislation we believe is best suited to provide vision coverage and expand access to low vision devices is the Medicare Vision Act (H.R. 4187)
The Medicare Vision Act (H.R. 4187) would repeal the eyeglasses exclusion from the Medicare statute and require CMS to develop a process to evaluate and make recommendations on covering low vision devices. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Kim Schrier (D-WA-08), and cosponsors for the Medicare Vision Act include Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08), Bobby Rush (D-IL-01), G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-01), Peter Welch (D-VT-AL), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01), and DC’s Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
The House Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee released draft text for their sections of the budget reconciliation package. This text creates a carve-out for Medicare coverage of routine eye exams, eyeglasses and contact lenses but does not explicitly mention coverage for low vision devices. The text does not include language from the Medicare Vision Act (H.R.4187). Although this is a step forward, ACB and the ITEM Coalition believe the inclusion of the Medicare Vision Act (H.R. 4187) in the budget reconciliation package will provide a more comprehensive vision benefit and allow CMS to authorize coverage for approved low vision devices.
Call to Action
ACB invites you to join us in our support for the Medicare Vision Act and urges Congress to include it in the upcoming budget reconciliation package. We encourage all our members and friends to contact both their Senators in support of including H.R. 4187 in the budget reconciliation package.
What You Can Do:
- Please listen to the ACB Advocacy Update podcast from September 9, with featured guest, Joseph Nahra, Director of Government Relations, Powers Law, and co-Coordinator, ITEM Coalition – https://www.acbmedia.org/2021/09/09/low-vision-devices-legislative-update/.
- Please review the letter sent by the ITEM Coalition and more than 80 supporting organizations, including ACB and many of our affiliates, to committee leaders in both the House and Senate urging the inclusion of the Medicare Vision Act (H.R. 4187) in the budget reconciliation package - https://itemcoalition.files.wordpress.com/2021/09/item-coalition-letter-on-low-vision-coverage-in-fy-2022-reconciliation-package.pdf.
To contact your Senators, go to www.senate.gov and search by your state and then send them an email or call their office to share your opinion. You may also reach your Senators’ offices by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
When contacting your Senators, please let them know you are a constituent and that you would like them to support H.R.4187 and to add it to the current reconciliation package being considered in the Senate. Be sure to share with your Senators how access to low vision devices has impacted your life and what it would mean for all individuals living with vision loss to have access to these necessary and vital tools for independence.
Please remember to let us know, once you have contacted your representative, by emailing the ACB Advocacy Team, Clark and Swatha, at: [email protected] or by telephone at (202) 467-5081.
Thank you and keep advocating.