Rush, Burgess Introduce Legislation to Protect Patients and Providers in Online Contact Lens Sales

Jul 25, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representatives Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) and Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas) introduced H.R. 3975, the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act.  This bill creates common sense regulations that would make purchasing contact lenses online easier, safer, and more private.

Currently, online retailers are not required to have consumers upload their prescriptions in order to sell them contact lenses.  This oversight allows the sale of potentially harmful contact lenses to unknowing consumers.  Other lax regulations allow online retailers to send protected medical information through email without first ensuring that its privacy is secured and, even worse, online contact lens retailers are allowed to use robocalls to verify patient information.

H.R. 3975 would amend the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act by providing new protections to consumers.  Specifically, it would address these problems by requiring online retailers to provide an online portal for consumers to upload their prescriptions and to encrypt all medical information sent in emails and by banning the use of robocalls.  This means online retailers will have the proper information and guidelines to safely conduct contact lens transactions.

“Contact lenses are a necessity for many Americans to go about their lives.  That is why we must make sure that those who need contact lenses are able to safely purchase them online without being taken advantage of or receiving incorrect products.  I am proud to introduce this legislation, which will protect consumers by eliminating shady business practices and bring the process of purchasing contact lenses into the modern age, with my friend, Congressman Burgess,” Rush said.

“In the 21st century marketplace, American patients have more options for buying contact lenses than ever before.  It is critical for patients to receive the correct prescription when ordering contact lenses — regardless of where they place the order.  The Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act would maintain consumers’ freedom while ensuring that physicians can verify their patients’ prescriptions.  I thank Rep. Rush for his ongoing partnership to protect American consumers,” said Burgess.

“Patient safety need not come at the expense of patient choice, and the Alliance thanks Congressman Rush and Congressman Burgess for the introduction of this thoughtful legislation that strengthens patient safety.  This legislation will be a strong step toward improving patient health and safety when ordering contact lenses,” added Dr. Deanna Alexander, Chair of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety.

“No reputable company should be using repeated robocalls into physician offices to communicate on patient health and safety matters,” said Barbara L. Horn, OD, President of the American Optometric Association.  “With Internet-based mass retailers failing to fix the problem, AOA doctors of optometry are pleased to see Reps. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), Michael C. Burgess, MD (R-Texas) and other health policy leaders in Congress joining together on a bipartisan basis, along with the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, to close an outrageous robocall loophole that’s undermining quality care and putting the public at risk.”

The Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act is supported by the American Optometric Association, the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.