Maloney and Bilirakis Introduce Legislation to Provide Medicare Coverage for Low Vision Devices

Apr 6, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) reintroduced the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act to help Medicare beneficiaries with low vision lead healthy, safe, and independent lives.

This legislation would create 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.

“Coverage of low vision devices under Medicare will allow seniors with visual impairments to enjoy everyday activities and age independently. For some, reading a book or crossing the street is difficult even with glasses or contact lenses due to blurriness or distortion,” said Rep. Maloney. “Doctors can prescribe magnifiers and other special devices, but their current exclusion from Medicare coverage greatly restricts access to these devices. With the rising costs of healthcare, Medicare beneficiaries with these low vision impairments need our help. Necessary medical devices must be covered, period.”

“As someone who lives with visual impairments myself, I understand how important magnifiers and other low vision devices are for visually impaired individuals,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “Our bipartisan bill will help seniors access the low vision devices they need to more easily go about their daily lives and enjoy more independence.”

“Medicare coverage for low vision devices will significantly improve the effectiveness of vision rehabilitation services that are already covered under Medicare,” said Alan R. Morse, JD, PhD, President and CEO, Lighthouse Guild. “It is time for CMS to correct this inequitable and unjust policy. I thank the Representatives for their continued support of this issue.”

Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9) is also an original cosponsor of this legislation.