Duckworth and Boozman Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Consumers by Modernizing the Online Contact Lens Marketplace and Banning Related Robocalls
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and John Boozman (R-AR) announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation that would make purchasing contact lenses online safer and more secure. Specifically, the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act (S. 1784) would prohibit the use of automated calls (robocalls) as a method of verifying a prescription. It would also require online contact lens sellers to allow patients to electronically upload contact lens prescriptions and mandate encryption when emailing medical information protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Companion legislation (H.R. 3353) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL-01), Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX-26), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-AL) and David McKinley (R-WV-01).
“Those who rely on contact lenses shouldn’t worry about receiving the wrong prescription because their eye doctor was unable to verify their information due to low-quality robocalls,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort to protect the health of Americans who choose to wear contact lenses, so that they receive their correct prescriptions from online retailers and feel secure knowing that the contact lenses they paid for will both work and protect their eye health.”
“The Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act will address the shortfalls in the Federal Trade Commission rule. It alleviates patient safety concerns by banning automated prescription verification calls and removes unnecessary requirements the rule placed on providers who are already facing new challenges as a result of COVID-19,” said Boozman. “Our bill will support patient safety and eliminate burdens on small health practices.”
Approximately 45 million Americans choose contact lenses as their vision correction device – and they are safe and effective when used as prescribed. However, improper use or fit can lead to serious eye health complications, including blindness, infections and ulcers and may even require the removal of the eye. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that consumers have a valid prescription from an eye care professional, such as an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, to purchase contact lenses. Contact lens prescriptions are complicated and include specific numbers for strength, base curve and diameter. Unfortunately, online contact lens sellers are increasingly relying on automated verification calls, or robocalls, to confirm contact lens prescriptions. These robocalls are often difficult to understand due to low-quality recording, fail to include all necessary information to confirm a prescription and create barriers for eye doctors to respond to sellers with prescription corrections when necessary.
“The introduction of the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act in the United States Senate is a significant step forward for patient safety as the Act will modernize how contact lens prescriptions are verified and offer safeguards for contact lens wearing patients,” said Dr. David Cockrell, Chairman of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety. “With this bill introduction by Senator Duckworth and Senator Boozman, there is a recognition by members of both parties in both chambers of Congress that action must be taken to protect patient eye health and safety. We appreciate Senators Duckworth’s and Boozman’s diligent work to ensure that contact lens prescription verification methods move beyond outdated automated ‘robocalls’ and meet modern standards.”
“Over the years, we have seen how robocalls hurt our patients because we are often unable to address prescriptions mistakes directly with contact lens sellers,” said Michael Repka, MD, Medical Director for Governmental Affairs for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Banning robocalls for prescription verification will not only help ensure our patients get their proper prescription, it will also help improve their eye health. The Academy thanks Senator Duckworth and Senator Boozman for introducing this important legislation.”
This legislation is supported by the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Full text of the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act is available here.
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