Alliance for Patient Safety Says U.S. House Committee to Delay Contact Lens Rule

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ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (APS) said Wednesday the U.S. House's Committee on Appropriations is moving to delay the effective date and enforcement of the amendments in the recently finalized Contact Lens Rule. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released its updated CL rule late last month, as VMAIL  reported. A number of other companies and optical organizations, including the American Optometric Association, also have publicly declared their opposition to the FTC's updated CL rule, as VMAIL reported.

However, it is believed that in order for the Appropriations Committee's action this week to move ahead, a number of other legislative steps would be required to advance the effort to delay FTC's enforcement of the new CL rule's language.

Still, the Appropriations Committee's efforts, which are detailed in its Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) funding bill, is “a sharp Congressional rebuke of the FTC’s work on the Contact Lens Rule," according to APS’s announcement Wednesday.

The FSCG report, in part, states: “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.”

The report also states that the new CL 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.”

The complete FSGG funding report can be read here.  

“For years, Congress and patient safety advocates have been calling for regulatory policy that both protects patient health and eliminates burdensome paperwork regulations on doctors,” Dr. Deanna Alexander, OD, chairwoman of APS, said. “The requirement to collect, store and maintain unnecessary paperwork for years would be a burden in normal circumstances, but it’s even more challenging and costly for physicians who are navigating a global pandemic and working harder than ever to protect patients’ health and safety.”

APS also noted that a bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced a bill backed by patient safety advocates to modernize the prescription verification process, which the FTC’s Rule failed to address. The proposed Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act, H.R. 3975, increases patient safety by prohibiting prescription verification made via robocall and instead requiring that online sellers use direct communication – like a live phone call, fax, or e-mail – to confirm prescriptions.