(WASHINGTON) – The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (APS) today applauded Congress for acting to delay the implementation, effective date and enforcement of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) updated Contact Lens Rule (Rule) until March 31, 2021. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 – the recently passed omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2021 – allowed the directive included in the House Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) report to stand as the operative language directing the FTC’s treatment of the Rule.
The FSGG report, which can be read here, states:
Contact Lenses.—The Committee is disappointed that the FTC’s final amendments to the Contact Lens Rule do not sufficiently address the patient safety concerns the Committee has repeatedly outlined in report language for the past four years. The rule fails to sufficiently modernize the prescription verification process by eliminating the use of robocalls and imposes new burdensome paperwork requirements on providers and patients. To allow providers sufficient time to implement the necessary changes and to prevent additional interruptions in service due to the coronavirus, the Committee directs the FTC to delay the effective date for the amendments, and to suspend any implementation or enforcement of those amendments, until March 31, 2021.
Dr. Deanna Alexander, OD, Chairwoman of APS stated, “Patient safety advocates from across the country applaud Congress for acting to protect patients by delaying the effective date of the Contact Lens Rule. While we are appreciative of Congress’ work, we resolve to continue fighting for patient safety next year when Congress returns. Along with our supporters in both the House and Senate, the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety will tirelessly advocate for policy that prevents harmful inaccurate contact lens prescriptions from being shipped to patients and onerous regulations being forced upon local doctors.”
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers have gone on the record calling for changes to how contact lens prescriptions are verified and how patients are notified of their prescription rights. APS has consistently advocated for these important measures to keep patients safe, including through advocacy with the FTC and Congress. Past actions from Members of Congress include:
June 23, 2020: FTC announces final amendments to the Contact Lens Rule
June 30, 2020: Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) issue a statement calling for the passage of their Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act (H.R. 3975) as a legislative remedy to a portion of the FTC’s Rule.
July 15, 2020: The House Committee on Appropriations Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) funding bill includes report language directing the FTC to delay the effective and enforcement dates of the Rule
August 3, 2020: Ninety-four Members of the U.S. House of Representatives write to chamber leadership requesting action against the Rule in a COVID package or other legislation likely to become law soon
September 17, 2020: The Contact Lens Rule Modernization Act is introduced to modernize the contact lens prescription verification process and eliminate the burdensome signed acknowledgement form requirement.
November 10, 2020: The Senate Committee on Appropriations Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) funding bill includes report language urging the FTC to delay the effective date of final amendments to the Contact Lens Rule.
The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, founded in 2018, advocates for eye health and safety and elevates the doctor-patient relationship – the essential foundation of personal health care decision making. Members of the Alliance for Patient Safety work together to raise awareness and protect public health. Advancing policy and collaboration between leading eye health advocates, vision innovators and trusted voices is essential to elevate patient care.
The Alliance is made up of patient safety advocates, eye doctors, and contact lens manufacturers.
To become a local advocate or to get involved in protecting patient safety, visit www.patientsafetytoday.com.