A new federal bill may eliminate state-enacted protections for eye care and other health benefits.

On March 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (S.1955). The intent of the legislation is to help more Americans gain access to health insurance. But in doing so, the bill would take away states authority to regulate health insurance. If enacted, S.1955 would preempt all state-mandated benefit, service and provider laws, not just those specific to eye and vision care.

Benefits that may be on the chopping block: cancer screenings and treatment, diabetes supplies and education, mental health, preventive care, rehabilitation, well-child care and immunizations, maternity care, and other benefits.

This bill represents a renewed and well-funded effort by the business, insurance and other special interest lobbies to advance flawed legislation to final passage by Congress, says the American Optometric Associations Advocacy Group. S.1955 would render useless state-enacted patient protections for eye and vision care, any-willing provider and insurance equality laws intended to protect health-care providers and consumers.

The bill will soon be taken up for a vote on the Senate floor.


Vol. No: 143:04Issue: 4/15/2006