California congressional members join fight against contact lens prescription release form

Thirty-one members of Congress from California have joined other legislators opposing the FTC proposal mandating that contact lens prescribers, including optometrists and ophthalmologists, obtain a signed patient acknowledgment receipt with each new contact lens prescription.

In two recent letters to FTC chair Joseph Simons, dated July 27 and Sept. 17, the 31 members of Congress pointed out that California considered similar legislation about 3 years ago.

After consideration, the state opted to pass a law requiring eye doctors to post signage informing patients of their right to a copy of their prescription and explaining how to file a complaint if any rights were violated.

The proposed paperwork mandate also requires contact lens prescribers to keep the document on file for a least 3 years to aid in future federal investigations.

“According to 2017 Freedom of Information Act data, the FTC received a total of 309 consumer complaints out of roughly 200 million prescriptions issued between 2011 and 2016,” according to the letter. “While we believe that every complaint should be taken seriously and that eye doctors found to be in violation of the law should be punished, we also believe the FTC should instead consider a more effective strategy aimed at ensuring maximum doctor compliance and that patients are fully aware of their rights under the law. One such alternative is to follow the California example.”

The American Optometric Association and state affiliates believe the proposal will weaken the doctor-patient relationship and impose compliance costs of more than $18,000 on small and mid-sized practices, according to an announcement from the AOA.

Thirty-one members of Congress from California have joined other legislators opposing the FTC proposal mandating that contact lens prescribers, including optometrists and ophthalmologists, obtain a signed patient acknowledgment receipt with each new contact lens prescription.

In two recent letters to FTC chair Joseph Simons, dated July 27 and Sept. 17, the 31 members of Congress pointed out that California considered similar legislation about 3 years ago.

After consideration, the state opted to pass a law requiring eye doctors to post signage informing patients of their right to a copy of their prescription and explaining how to file a complaint if any rights were violated.

The proposed paperwork mandate also requires contact lens prescribers to keep the document on file for a least 3 years to aid in future federal investigations.

“According to 2017 Freedom of Information Act data, the FTC received a total of 309 consumer complaints out of roughly 200 million prescriptions issued between 2011 and 2016,” according to the letter. “While we believe that every complaint should be taken seriously and that eye doctors found to be in violation of the law should be punished, we also believe the FTC should instead consider a more effective strategy aimed at ensuring maximum doctor compliance and that patients are fully aware of their rights under the law. One such alternative is to follow the California example.”

The American Optometric Association and state affiliates believe the proposal will weaken the doctor-patient relationship and impose compliance costs of more than $18,000 on small and mid-sized practices, according to an announcement from the AOA.