From Our Members

Apr 15, 2024

Letter from the Coalition to Senate Leadership: Oppose S.4083

Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Chairman Cantwell, Ranking Member Cruz and distinguished leaders, members and staff of the 118th United States Senate:

The Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice writes today in strong opposition to S. 4083, legislation introduced earlier this month, that would increase costs for 45 million contact lens consumers and reduce competition in the contact lens market.

Sponsored by Senator Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator Boozman (R-AR), S. 4083, the so-called “Contact Lens Prescription Modernization Act”, is introduced in every Congress as part of an orchestrated decades-long attempt to weaken the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA) and the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) updated Contact Lens Rule (CLR) issued unanimously in 2020.

The FCLCA was enacted to bring competition and fairness to the contact lens marketplace by ensuring consumers have the right to obtain their own contact lens prescription and decide which purchasing options work best for them. Taxpayers, who help to fund health insurance programs for government employees, can also benefit when vision care becomes less expensive.

Sadly, interests who speak on behalf of the optometric industry continue to invest their time and resources to try and undo these protections, take away choice, make prescription release more difficult, and drive up prices for their patients.

Starting last year the FTC has sent cease and desist letters to optometric prescribers across the country highlighting violations of the Contact Lens Rule. It is deeply concerning that 20 years after the bipartisan FCLCA was signed, consumers are still not receiving copies of their prescriptions, still not being made aware of their rights as customers and still do not have the remedies they need to purchase vision care products and services at the best combination of value and price.

In addition to those failing to comply with the law, those who oppose contact lens consumer rights are also lobbying Congress to weaken the FCLCA. S. 4083, supported and promoted by the American Optometric Association, is specifically targeted at a key component of the FCLCA designed to protect consumers from unscrupulous providers who refuse to release their prescriptions. The bill seeks to ban automated phone prescription verification, the part of the FCLCA that creates robust competition in the contact lens marketplace and allows consumers to shop around for their lenses when they do not have a copy of their prescription. The current automated phone prescription verification process strikes a prudent balance that benefits both consumers and providers. It requires a contact lens retailer to wait eight business hours after contacting the prescriber before it may fulfill a consumer’s order, instead of requiring the retailer to wait indefinitely for the prescriber to positively verify the prescription.

The fact is the optometric industry and their trade association, the AOA, have the power to end automated phone prescription verification on their own, without Congressional action. They could eliminate the need for the automated system by simply releasing a copy of a customer’s contact lens prescription, which they are legally mandated to do. Imagine how many more consumers could be receiving a copy of their contact lens prescription if the AOA directed the resources they are using to promote S.4083 toward helping their members more effectively resolve questions and compliance issues with the law protecting contact lens consumers.

Consumers will lose their rights, the contact lens market will become less competitive, prices will rise, taxpayers will miss out on savings, and choice will be greatly reduced if S. 4083 is passed by Congress. On behalf of every American who wears contact lenses in this country, please oppose this misguided bill.


The Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice