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AOA Vows to Fight FTC’s Contact Lens Rule Changes

The FTC announced the final rule on June 23.

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The American Optometric Association is “mobilizing fully” to challenge a final Contact Lens Rule approved by the Federal Trade Commission.

Changes that the AOA objects to include requirements for prescribers to:

  • Obtain signed acknowledgement forms indicating patients’ receipt of contact lens prescriptions.
  •  Keep record of the patient confirmation for at least three years.

The FTC announced the final rule on June 23.

“Eye doctors are required by law to provide every patient with a copy of his or her contact lens prescription, allowing patients to comparison shop for lenses,” said FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith. “This rule change will help to ensure that eye doctors fulfill their obligations, and will facilitate FTC enforcement of these important requirements.”

But AOA President William T. Reynolds, OD, said the FTC “is turning a blind eye to what is in the best interest for health care practices and patients, instead focusing a misguided attack on law-abiding, frontline optometry practices.”

“This action is made even more outrageous and unacceptable at a time when we’ve been providing essential, primary care to our patients during the coronavirus pandemic,” Reynolds said. “AOA is mobilizing fully to ensure that all of our doctors can speak out, educate and engage government officials in challenging this mandate.”

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The AOA and state affiliates recently sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging action “to stop the FTC from enacting this dangerous rule change and harming thousands of essential small business health care practices.”

On June 30, the AOA joined with the American Academy of Ophthalmology to outline concerns about the final rule.

“Many of these [optometry and ophthalmology] practices have just recently begun to reopen and are grappling with significant financial losses and staffing concerns while also implementing and refining new patient care procedures to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus,” the organizations wrote. “The timing for a new regulatory requirement for these practices could not have occurred at a more challenging time.”

They called for the FTC to “at a minimum, delay the Rule effective date to January 1, 2021, or at least three months following the end of the current public health emergency as defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, whichever date is later.”

 

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