Maloney and Bilirakis Intro Bill to Help Visually-Impaired Americans

Jul 30, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) reintroduced the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act. This legislation would help Medicare beneficiaries live safe and independent lives by creating a five-year national demonstration project administered by the Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate the economic impact of allowing reimbursement for low vision devices under the Social Security Act, which are currently excluded from Medicare coverage.

“Medicare coverage of low vision devices would be life changing for seniors with vision impairments. It would give them the ability to partake in everyday activities, whether it be reading a book, watching television or safely crossing the street,” said Rep. Maloney. “With the rising costs of healthcare, we must ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have proper access to any and all necessary medical devices that are currently not covered by Medicare.”

“As a visually-impaired American, I have first-hand knowledge of the difficulties that accompany this condition. Simple tasks can be a significant challenge, and low-vision assistive devices are often required for essential life function. Sadly, many of these products are out of reach for seniors who live on a fixed income, and the devices’ exclusion from Medicare necessitates a difficult choice between extreme financial hardship or disengagement from these vital activities. I view this legislation as a preventative measure that will help seniors stay healthy, active, and self-sufficient for a longer period of time. This is not only better in terms of quality of life for our seniors, but also will result in reduced overall financial cost to the Medicare system. I am hopeful that the demonstration project authorized by this good, bipartisan legislation will help validate this approach,” said Congressman Bilirakis. 

“The American Council of the Blind commends Representatives Maloney and Bilirakis for introducing this legislation that will improve access to low vision devices for all Americans living with vision loss. Making low vision devices more affordable is imperative to increasing the independence and quality of life for people who are blind and visually impaired, and ACB and our members urge Congress to support this legislation,” said ACB Executive Director, Eric Bridges.  

Original co-sponsors of the bill are Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO).

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