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TUCKER, Ga.—The National Association of Vision Care Plans (NAVCP) board of directors has approved and posted a new "Ocular Telemedicine – Vision Plan Covered Services and Provider Guidelines" policy statement. The statement, approved during the group's June 29 virtual meeting, was compiled with extensive member input and consultation with both the NAVCP Provider Council and Retail Council along with outside industry stakeholders and telemedicine community leaders, the organization said. The NAVCP is a nonprofit association serving as a unified voice for the managed vision care industry.

It provides a forum for cooperative industry collaboration on initiatives that work to preserve and strengthen consumer access to affordable vision insurance and benefits. Its member companies operate extensive networks of vision care providers in all 50 states. Those networks cover approximately 170 mllion (53 percent) Americans.

NAVCP said that the intent of the policy statement is "to define the ocular telemedicine common denominator that can be covered by managed vision care plans. It is to serve as a guide for working with managed vision care plans who offer ocular telemedicine as a covered service. The policy statement will simplify provider, client and industry—including equipment and technology system manufacturers—planning and participation in service delivery.

“We are pleased to put forth ocular telemedicine policy guidelines to the vision care community,” said Kirk Rothrock, chairman of the board of NAVCP and CEO of Versant Health a managed vision care company. “Ocular telemedicine is rapidly evolving delivery of vision care. We embrace the opportunity it presents to improve access to eyecare.”

The NAVCP policy statement isn’t meant to describe the only forms of legal and beneficial ocular telemedicine available to patients and providers. Instead, the organization clarified in its announcement, "it was created to indicate forms of telemedicine that are appropriate for the standard vision benefits offered by NAVCP member plans. The policy statement does not require a NAVCP member to offer this benefit, and members are able to provide alternative approaches to ocular telemedicine."

Added Julian Roberts, executive director, NAVCP, “As the unified voice for the managed vision care industry, NAVCP understands our responsibility to provide guidance on appropriate uses for telemedicine. To that end, our members have collaborated to create policy guidelines that aim to serve the best interests of the individuals receiving care.”

NAVCP said it will review this policy statement annually and update it as technology advances and the standard of care evolves. The position statement is available at here.