Lens.com strongly opposes Cassidy-Boozman bill to deprive consumers of choice, reduce marketplace competition, and increase prices for lens users —
Las Vegas, Nevada (April 12, 2016) – Lens.com, a leading retailer that has supplied millions of contacts lenses for over two decades safely and responsibly to wearers, today joined the chorus of voices expressing opposition to anti-consumer legislation introduced yesterday by Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Boozman.
“The legislation Senators Cassidy and Boozman introduced would undermine the most important consumer protections provided to contact lens wearers by the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (the FCLCA),” said Cary Samourkachian, CEO of Lens.com. “If it were to ever become law, the result would be higher prices for consumers and fewer choices in where they could purchase their lenses.”
The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act required optometrists by law to hand patients their contact lens prescription, so that patients could comparison shop for a better price. The law created a thriving, robust marketplace where new market entrants and vigorous competition has driven prices down for consumers.
Before the passage of the FCLCA, contact lens wearers faced a market deprived of any competition or choice, and were essentially forced to purchase contact lenses from only one source: their eye doctor. The majority of the nation’s optometrists actually earn most of their income selling glasses and contact lenses, not performing eye exams or related health care duties.
While most physicians are prohibited from selling the medicines they prescribe, this is untrue when it comes to optometrists. This makes eye care fundamentally different from most other areas of health care, because the primary income driver for optometrists is retail product sales, not health services.
“Since the bipartisan passage of the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act in 2003, the American Optometric Association and the nation’s largest contact lens manufacturers tried every tactic they can come up with to undermine the law,” Samourkachian said. One of these tactics has been the nation’s four largest lens manufacturers, who account for approximately 98% of the market, instituting minimum retail price policies, in which they require all retailers, including discounters, to all charge the same minimum price as some of their most costly optometrist clients or face having their supply of lenses cut off. This had the effect of forcing retailers to raise prices on their consumers – and drew lawsuits from states Attorneys General.
“In each case, they have been stopped by the threat of litigation, by the states Attorneys General, by consumer activists or by individual consumers who have stood up to them in court. Since every effort the AOA and the manufacturers has made over the last decade to undermine the law has failed, they are now simply trying to have Congress legislate the key pro-consumer provisions of the FCLCA out of existence,” Samourkachian said.
“The supposed health concerns raised by the sponsors of this bill have been evaluated and dismissed previously by Congress and the Federal Trade Commission,” Samourkachian noted. “The ostensive health issues the Cassidy-Boozman bill address is a fig leaf to deprive consumers of choice, competition and lower priced contact lenses.”
About Lens.com, Inc. Lens.com, Inc., a leading online destination for contact lenses since 1995, is the nation’s 2nd largest online retailer for contact lenses offering consumers all the popular brands of contact lenses at wholesale prices with convenient quick delivery. Through its easy-to-use website www.Lens.com and its toll-free telephone number “1-800 LENS.COM” (1-800-536-7266), the company provides the very best in competitive pricing, convenience, and personalized customer service. Lens.com is a privately held U.S. corporation.