New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law on Jan. 8 a bill that prohibits health insurance companies from requiring that optometrists participate in vision care plans as a condition of inclusion on the carriers’ panel of providers.
The American Optometric Association reported that the law also prohibits restrictions or limitations on doctors’ choice of materials, services or optical labs provided to a patient and requirements on noncovered services and materials.
“The passage of this bill makes a difference in the delivery of quality health care in New Jersey,” Kenneth Daniels, OD, New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians (NJSOP) president, said in the announcement from the AOA. “It will make a defined difference on how optometry is able to deliver care and services, opening access for many more New Jersians to optometric health care.”
The bill was sponsored by assemblymen Daniel R. Benson (D-14th Dist.) and Jon Bramnick (R-21st Dist.). Grass roots supporters ensured legislators were educated on the importance of the bill, according to the AOA’s announcement.
“Legislators said they were avalanched with information from our members, and when it came time for those votes, we had great support," Michael Veliky, OD, NJSOP legislative committee chair and past president, said in the announcement. "This is landmark legislation from New Jersey that has leveled the playing field for our patients to get a fair shake with their insurance."
“This win demonstrates that elected officials respect optometry's essential and expanding role in the health care system and they are fed up with anti-doctor, anti-patient abuses by plans,” AOA President Christopher J. Quinn, OD, who lives and practices in New Jersey and is a past president of the NJSOP, said in the announcement. “Now, in addition to helping practices across the state, this win provides a real boost to AOA efforts to advance our profession by locking in new support in Washington for HR 1606.”
HR 1606, or the Dental and Optometric Care Access Act, seeks to empower doctors and patients in their dealings with vision plans, eliminate a growing level of anticompetitive practices in health care and help improve overall quality of patient care.”