Seminar: Medicare Coverage of Low Vision Devices
Making it Clearer: Medicare Coverage of Low Vision Devices Pending Legislation, Policy Implications, and What You Can Do About It
A Free Teleseminar Jointly Hosted by:
The American Foundation for the Blind
The American Council of the Blind
Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 3:00 p.m., Eastern
***Sponsored by HumanWare***
For further information, contact:
Mark Richert, Esq.
Director, Public Policy, AFB
You are invited to participate in a free national teleseminar jointly hosted by ACB and AFB to learn about recent activities in the U.S. Congress to promote Medicare coverage of low vision devices. We are grateful to HumanWare, www.HumanWare.com, a global leader in low vision and other assistive technologies, for their gracious support which is making this teleseminar possible.
There is no need to register or RSVP for this free teleseminar. To join the call, simply dial the toll-free number below at least ten minutes prior to the March 12, 3pm Eastern, start time. Dial:
Tell the operator that you are joining the “low vision devices” call.
We look forward to a lively discussion with all who are interested in advancing the cause of Medicare coverage for low vision devices and other assistive technologies. During the teleseminar, topics to be covered will include pending legislation in Congress, the array of policy implications of a permanent change in the Medicare program, and how advocates can participate in the policy process.
For decades, the vision loss community has been advocating for Medicare’s coverage of assistive technologies, particularly low vision devices. Currently, Medicare will not pay for any device that happens to use a lens, regardless of whether such device incorporates any other features. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for the management of Medicare, has ruled that devices, such as low vision devices, that use a lens are excluded from coverage just as are eye glasses or contact lenses except in very narrow circumstances.
Now, for the first time, federal legislation would begin to change this unacceptable national policy by establishing a nationwide Medicare demonstration project to evaluate the fiscal impact of a permanent change in Medicare coverage to pay for low vision devices. The legislation, H.R. 3749, introduced by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), would initiate a five-year demonstration project that would put low vision devices in the hands of Medicare beneficiaries who, after a clinical evaluation by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, can benefit from a low vision device and for whom such devices are medically necessary. The legislation is careful to require that the demonstration project be genuinely national in scope and is explicitly designed to yield reliable data and meaningful results. Once the legislation is enacted and the demonstration project is successfully completed, Congress will have significantly richer data upon which to consider changes to the Medicare program to make coverage of low vision devices, especially the most costly devices, a permanent feature of the program. Precisely how many individuals will receive low vision devices and how many physicians across the country will participate in the demo project will need to be determined by CMS, working in consultation with stakeholder groups, as it develops and implements the project. The legislation makes $12.5 million available for the project over five years.
Advocates are encouraged to contact your members of the United States Congress.