Advocacy Efforts Continue as Contact Lens Rule Remains Under Review

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CooperVision, as well as the AOA, the Coalition for Patient Vision Care Safety and other groups continue to remind ECPs to speak out against proposed changes to the Contact Lens Rule.  The proposed changes to the rule remain under review and open to public comment.  

Over the past month, new opinion pieces have surfaced encouraging lawmakers to speak out against the changes, which would require eye care providers to obtain written acknowledgements that prescriptions were received from every contact lens patient and keep them on file for 3 years.  In a recent opinion piece on Morning Consult, Richard Miller praised Representative Leonard Lance (R-New Jersey) for taking a common-sense approach in his stance on the proposed change.  “Leonard Lance,” says Miller, “…should be congratulated for his aggressive efforts to halt the unbridled expansion of government regulation and its all-too-often harmful interference with small businesses, upon which the growth and prosperity of our nation is dependent.”  

Miller, who has worked in various areas of government including chief of staff to Sen. John P. East (R-N.C.), refers to a letter that Rep. Lance wrote to the FTC in July and which was signed by dozens of additional members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat.  In it, Lance and his peers asserted that the proposed rule change “…appears to be based on limited evidence and would place an unnecessary requirement on patients and costly regulatory burden on the nation's eye doctors, many of which are small business owners.” 

Rep. Lance went on to elaborate upon just how weak the numbers supporting the rule change really appear to be.  “The FTC also claimed an ‘ongoing pattern of consumer complaints’," said Lance, “despite data obtained through a 2017 FOIA request showing that the FTC received a total of 309 complaints (of which roughly half were unrelated to any violation of the law) regarding prescription release between 2011 and 2016. While the FTC should investigate and act on legitimate violations of the law and the rule, this relatively small percentage of complaints in relation to nearly 40 million contact lens prescriptions each year does not justify costly new industry-wide rules.”

How costly?  The FTC has estimated that implementation of their proposed change will cost practitioners and consumers in excess of $10M.  “While the FTC estimates that the new mandate would cost the industry roughly $10.5 million, a study conducted by Avalon Health Economics has found that, if finalized, the costs to an eye doctor practice with one doctor and one support staff member could be as high as $18,795 in the initial year of implementation,” said Lance. “For practices that have a higher than average volume of contact lens patients and have more than one eye doctor, the total cost could be as high as $74 ,667.”  Miller asserts that these figures bring the implementation cost closer to $100M.

In his closing statement, Rep Lance encouraged the FTC to abandon this costly revision to the Contact Lens Rule and said, “The FTC' s proposed change to the Contact Lens Rule represents an unnecessary requirement for patients and costly regulatory burden on the nation's eye doctors.”  They went on to recommend that the FTC consider a counterproposal that practitioners post signage in their offices notifying patients of their rights.

Last month, CooperVision shared how you can reach out to your congress men and women to make your voice heard on this important issue.  A summary of the Contact Lens Rule and its proposed changes can be found here.

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