VSP Board Chairman Replies to Hopping's Letter

Stuart Thomas, OD, chairman, VSP Global board of directors, responds to Hopping’s reaction to the Forbes article by Rob Lynch, president and chief executive officer of VSP Global.

As a practicing independent optometrist in Athens, Ga., a past president of both the Georgia Optometric Association and the Southern Council of Optometrists/SECO International, and current chairman of the VSP Global Board of Directors, I’m greatly concerned by Dr. Hopping’s inflammatory statements. It’s been said that “when you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff.” So, I prefer to debate the facts, not rhetoric.

Simply put, patients who have stand-alone vision coverage are better off than those who don’t. Research shows that eye exams are among the best forms of preventive medicine, and patients are twice as likely to see their eye doctor when they have separate vision benefits. Isn’t early detection a primary goal of the Affordable Care Act? If so, optometry’s national association should be embracing, not trying to dismantle, the vision plan model because it delivers on that promise.

Furthermore, millions of doctor-patient relationships could be disrupted if stand-alone vision plans are not included and people must transition from their current program into government-led insurance exchanges that may or may not include the same benefits and/or doctors on their panels. That’s why an increasing number of optometrists and optometric groups, like the California Optometric Association and countless others, are supporting stand-alone vision plans. There’s just too much at stake here.

We agree with the AOA’s desire for better integration of eye and health benefits and we want to work toward this together — just not at the expense of the 100 million Americans who rely on stand-alone benefits to protect their vision and their health.