Supporters Of Consumer Choice And Equal Access To Eye Care Launch Radio And Digital Campaign

Measure pending in conference committee would save $20 million annually for medicaid, bring massachusetts into line with 49 other states
By: 1980
BOSTON - June 6, 2017 - PRLog -- Supporters of a provision of the Senate budget that would modernize Massachusetts' eye care laws while saving Medicaid $20 million annually this week launched radio and digital advertising to advocate for its passage as part of the conference budget.  49 states and the Federal VA medical system allow optometrists to treat glaucoma and prescribe limited oral medications for eye infections, and have been doing so for up to 40 years.  Massachusetts is the only state that does not, requiring the expense and inconvenience of a visit to a specialist to treat conditions routinely and expertly handled by optometrists everywhere else.

The text of the 30 second radio ads running on WBZ-AM and 98.5 The Sports Hub is as follows:

"I get great eye care from my optometrist, but Massachusetts is the only state that won't let my optometrist prescribe drops for my glaucoma. Optometrists in forty-nine other states can, and now the State Senate voted for the seventh time to allow it here. It's in the Senate budget because Mass. would save twenty million a year if it changed this law.  Eighty-six percent of consumers want equal access to eye care.  Health Centers, the Governor, and the Globe support it.  Given these facts, it's time for the house of representatives to help fix this outdated law.

Paid for by the Mass. Vision Foundation"

Audio of the ad is available at

In addition to being included in the Senate budget, bills H. 1169 (Rep. Patricia Haddad), H. 2463 (Rep. Brad Jones), S. 1242 (Sen. Michael Moore), and S. 1190 (Sen. Sal DiDomenico) have also been filed.  All would change Massachusetts' antiquated law to ensure consumer choice and equal access to eye care.

Bringing the Commonwealth up to the national standard is supported by the Massachusetts Society of Optometrists, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, as it is a common-sense reform that saves money and provides access to the more than 1500 optometrists in Massachusetts for patients with glaucoma and eye infections.  There are only 325 Ophthalmologists in Massachusetts, meaning higher expenses, long waits, and inconvenience for consumers, especially in western, rural, and certain suburban areas of the state, and for those treated in Community Health Centers and many urban areas.

The Massachusetts State Senate passed similar legislation six times in recent years, but it has not passed in the House.  In a letter to the House in 2016, the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice wrote that patients in Massachusetts could "experience increased access to care, more choice in how their care is delivered, and more cost-effective treatment."  The concept has also earned past editorial support, including from the Boston Globe.

An expert study by former Massachusetts Director of MassHealth, Tom Dehner, and Missy Garrity of Health Management Associates found that allowing optometrists to treat glaucoma and other eye infections would save $19.6 million per year for MassHealth, the state's Medicaid program.
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