VSP Vision Care to Drop Aspex as In-Network Provider

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RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—VSP Vision Care will no longer provide in-network coverage for eyewear manufactured and/or distributed by Aspex Eyewear, effective Aug. 1 for some providers, and Sept. 1 for others.

A VSP Frame Coverage Change letter, obtained by VM, was sent to 8,000 VSP providers who had done business with Aspex in the previous three months, according to a VSP spokesperson, who said the policy “applies to VSP’s entire doctor network who will be notified in a communication in the near future.”

Citing ongoing “commercial disputes” between the two companies, the letter said VSP “has re-examined its business relationship” with Aspex as a consequence of that situation. The letter also reminds ECPs that “as a VSP network doctor you are free to carry any frames you wish—including Aspex frames,” and that VSP’s network ECPs can still offer Aspex products as an out-of-network benefit.

The “commercial disputes” allude to ongoing litigation between Aspex, VSP and VSP subsidiaries and include a lawsuit filed by Aspex March 17 in the U.S. District Court for eastern California. That suit charged VSP with “breach of contract,” “antitrust violations” and “unfair business practices” for making Aspex an out-of-network provider, according to court documents obtained by VM. The suit initially was filed against VSP as well as its Marchon Eyewear and Altair Eyewear subsidiaries; Aspex later dismissed its complaints against Marchon and Altair.

In the lawsuit, Aspex asked the court to grant a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to enjoin VSP from “barring or otherwise preventing VSP’s subscribers and/or provider network from using VSP insurance benefits for the purchase of Aspex’s products,” according to the March 17 court filing. The suit also asked the court to order VSP “to issue effective communications to all VSP subscribers and participating providers that Aspex is a VSP-approved manufacturer and distributor of eyewear and, as such, subscribers’ frame allowances can be applied to Aspex frames on equal terms with all other VSP-approved manufacturers,” the court document said.

On May 19, Judge John Mendez denied Aspex’s request for such an injunction. Aspex filed court papers May 28 saying it will appeal the judge’s ruling; the company has until June 25 to file an opening brief in that appeal.