Representatives O’Halleran, Schrier, DelBene, and Slotkin reintroduce bill to expand Medicare to include vision care

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WASHINGTON D.C. – Yesterday, Representatives Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08), Elissa Slotkin(MI-08), and Suzan DelBene (WA-01) reintroduced the Medicare Vision Act of 2021 to expand Medicare coverage to provide affordable vision care. As of now, gaps in Medicare make it hard for 60 million seniors and younger people with disabilities to afford vision services.

“Eyeglasses and routine eye exams are essential components of health care for Arizona seniors, and should be covered under Medicare,” said O’Halleran. “Seniors have paid into the Medicare program their entire lives; they deserve the highest quality, comprehensive care as they age. I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce this commonsense legislation.”

An estimated 20.5 million Medicare beneficiaries have vision problems, yet only 57 percent said they had received an eye examination during the previous year. Medicare Part B covers cataract surgery and yearly glaucoma screenings for people who are at high risk but does not cover routine exams, glasses, or contact lenses. Screenings at annual visits would catch issues early and help seniors retain this sight.

“The Medicare Vision Act is designed to provide a needed expansion of essential eye health and vision care for Medicare beneficiaries, and the American Optometric Association proudly supports it,” said AOA President William T. Reynolds, O.D. “The AOA salutes the health policy leadership of Reps. Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA); Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ); Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and their efforts to keep doctor-patient decision making at the center of health care and especially in the Medicare program.”

The Medicare Vision Act of 2021 would:

  • Expand Medicare Part B coverage to include annual routine eye exams, procedures, and contact lens fitting services;
  • Provide coverage for one pair of eyeglasses or a two-year supply of contact lenses; and
  • Provide a path to coverage for low vision aids.