August 19, 2020
2 min read

Congress members, AOA request rollback of new Contact Lens Rule additions

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Members of Congress have requested that the Federal Trade Commission roll back its recent updates to the Contact Lens Rule.

The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (APS) advocacy group announced in a press release its support of members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate calling for the delay of the FTC amendment for the use of prescription verification robocalls. The alliance said these updates could result in patients receiving inaccurate prescriptions from what were originally recommended and fitted by their doctors.

“We applaud Congressional leaders for their calls for an immediate legislative remedy to the troubling final Contact Lens Rule, which continues the dangerous practice of allowing robocalls to be used for prescription verification and places unnecessary burdens on doctors as they try to keep their practices operational amid a pandemic,” APS chairwoman Deanna Alexander, OD, said in the release. “Ensuring patient safety is paramount, and we hope their calls will be heard and acted upon to protect patient safety and allow doctors to focus on caring for patients as opposed to bureaucratic paperwork requirements.”

“Despite overwhelming Congressional engagement (including through appropriations language, multiple sign-on letters and direct hearing questioning) the FTC has refused to meaningfully address disruptive and unreliable prescription verification robocalls and has instead allowed this dangerous practice to continue,” members of the House of Representatives wrote in a letter to chamber leadership. “... With the variety of other prescription verification options available, restricting the use of these robocalls is a simple fix that would better protect the tens of millions of patients and contact lens consumers who are now at risk.”

House members Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Michael C. Rush, MD (R-Texas), who were leads on the letter, previously cosponsored a proposed bill, the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act, which would increase patient safety by banning the automated calls and require online sellers to directly contact patients through the use of live phone calls, faxes or emails for prescription verification, the statement said.

The American Optometric Association, who also opposed the ruling, received support in the Senate. In a letter addressed to the FTC, the AOA discussed its concerns about other aspects of the legislation that requires practices to obtain, file and document each contact lens prescription to ensure each patient receives a copy of their prescription. The AOA said that process would cost practices more than $13 million annually to comply.

“We are concerned that the FTC is imposing these new requirements on doctor’s offices across the country just as they are working hard to get back on their feet,” the AOA wrote in its letter. “These small health practices are increasingly struggling to afford personal protective equipment for themselves, their employees and patients, and are still recouping from retrofitting costs and revenue losses stemming from reduced patient flow. Complying with this additional burden at the present time could seriously undermine their recovery efforts.”