Legislation would increase eye doctors’ market power.
A contact lens prescription bill under consideration by a U.S. Senate committee would increase optometrists’ market power by changing the verification process for contact lens providers, Heartlander Magazine explains.
Under the current law, the article says, prescriptions are considered to be automatically verified when a contact lens seller requests verification from an optometrist and doesn’t receive a response within eight hours. The new legislation, however, “would prohibit automatic verification in cases when prescribers merely raise concerns about a customer’s prescription during that eight-hour period. The bill would forbid sellers from filling prescriptions until a prescriber affirmatively verifies or corrects the prescription.” Contact lens providers, under this new law, could be fined up to $40,000 per violation for filling prescriptions without following the new verification guidelines.
The American Optometric Association has thrown its support behind the bill, saying it will “ensure more effective federal enforcement of contact lens patient health and prescription verification safeguards by targeting an array of schemes being used by unscrupulous internet sellers.”
Peter Ferrara, an author and senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, offered his opposing viewpoint in the article: “This is a counterproductive policy that is regulatory and tax protectionism. It increases costs. It’s not good policy or good politics. It needs to be defeated.
“Optometrists have access to rebates and kickbacks from contact lens manufacturers. Some optometrists have ownership or personal interests in manufacturers. By simply not responding to prescription verification requests from disfavored discount lens manufacturers, optometrists can limit their patients’ choice of contacts suppliers to those giving optometrists kickbacks.”