June 15, 2017
1 min read

Vision groups urge inclusion of preventive services in AHCA

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Prevent Blindness, along with 100 other eye health organizations, sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging them to retain the Affordable Care Act’s definition of essential health benefits, which include coverage for children’s vision services and preventive health screenings.

“Vision impairments and eye disorders are the third leading chronic condition among children with costs for direct medical care, vision aids and devices, and caregivers amounting to $10 billion per year,” the organizations wrote in the letter.

“Our nation’s families are shouldering 45% of these costs,” the groups continued. “Common childhood eye disorders and vision impairments are easily treatable if caught early; however, as written, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) jeopardizes early detection and cost-effective treatments that could prevent lifelong vision impairment and result in permanent loss of vision.”

The organizations also expressed concern in their letter about the burden on state public health infrastructure if national policies on preventive medicine were eliminated. The preventive services covered under the essential health benefits ensure that children receive screening that detects problems before development and learning ability are compromised, according to the letter.

Prominent organizations who signed the letter included: American Academy of Optometry, Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired, Center for Vision Loss, International Eye Foundation and several universities.

“We urge the Senate to preserve the children’s vision coverage as currently defined under the Affordable Care Act’s [essential health benefits]. Prevention is a critical element in a strong public health infrastructure, and we ask that the Senate work to preserve the ability for children to receive eye and vision health services that establish a foundation for healthy development, school readiness and lifelong vision health,” the letter concluded.