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Congressman Chris Collins

Representing the 27th District of New York

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Reps. Collins & McNerney Introduce Legislation to Prevent Diabetic Eye Disease

Feb 29, 2016
Press Release

U.S. Representatives Chris Collins (NY-27) and Jerry McNerney (CA-09) today released the following comments after introducing H.R. 4642, the Diabetic Eye Disease Prevention Act. The legislation works to prevent blindness and eye diseases associated with diabetes.

“Among the debilitating side effects associated with diabetes, early vision loss is particularly devastating,” saidCongressman Chris Collins. “To combat this significant health issue, I am proud to introduce the Diabetic Eye Disease Prevention Act. This commonsense and budget neutral legislation improves early detection for Medicare beneficiaries so those suffering can access the care they need to prevent long-term vision loss.”

“The millions of people who suffer from diabetes are at risk for early vision loss and impairment. These problems can be mitigated with early detection and proper treatment, and that’s why I’m proud to co-author the Diabetic Eye Disease Prevention Act,” said Congressman Jerry McNerney. “This bill would make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries who suffer from diabetes to get comprehensive eye exams from local doctors and diagnose any symptoms before they become significant visual complications. Early diagnosis will also promote savings in Medicare as costs often increase when treatment is delayed.”

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults. H.R. 4642 will help doctors catch eye diseases before they become debilitating to the patient. The legislation, which is endorsed by the American Optometric Association, establishes a 5-year pilot program that incentivizes primary care providers to refer Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with diabetes to local eye doctors for comprehensive dilated eye exams. The cost of the pilot program is offset with funds from traditional diabetic eye care payments, keeping the legislation budget neutral.

“With the prevalence of diabetes among America’s seniors growing at an alarming rate and roughly one out of every three Medicare dollars currently being spent on treatments for those with diabetes, the bipartisan leadership of Reps. Collins and McNerney and their determination to reduce unnecessary Medicare costs and improve seniors’ lives through increased access to preventive eye health care is needed now more than ever,” said American Optometric Association President Steven A. Loomis, O.D. “By encouraging better coordination and communication among key members of the diabetes care team – including America’s doctors of optometry - and ensuring that a growing number of seniors with diabetes receive the comprehensive dilated eye exams that they need and deserve, together we can make even greater strides toward reducing seniors’ potential for significant vision loss and blindness while saving Medicare from avoidable costs associated with delayed diagnosis and treatment of a range of diabetes-related eye and vision conditions.”

Full text of the legislation can be read here.