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Blirakis Introduces Bill to Help ‘Low-Vision’ Seniors


If passed, the bill would fund authorize funding of a study to evaluate the impact of having Medicare pay for “low-vision devices.” Currently, Medicare does not pay for them.

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, and Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY, have introduced the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act.

This legislation would help Medicare beneficiaries live safe and independent lives by creating 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.

“As a visually-impaired American, I have first-hand knowledge of the difficulties that accompany this condition,” Bilirakis said. “Simple tasks can be a significant challenge, and low-vision assistive devices are often required for essential life function. Sadly, many of these products are out of reach for seniors who live on a fixed income, and the devices’ exclusion from Medicare necessitates a difficult choice between extreme financial hardship or disengagement from these vital activities.

“I view this legislation as a preventative measure that will help seniors stay healthy, active, and self-sufficient for a longer period of time. This is not only better in terms of quality of life for our seniors, but also will result in reduced overall financial cost to the Medicare system. I am hopeful that the demonstration project authorized by this good, bipartisan legislation will help validate this approach.”

Maloney said, “Medicare coverage of low vision devices would be life changing for seniors with vision impairments. It would give them the ability to partake in everyday activities, whether it be reading a book, watching television or safely crossing the street. With the rising costs of healthcare, we must ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have proper access to any and all necessary medical devices that are currently not covered by Medicare.”

Eric Bridges, executive director of the American Council for the Blind, said, ““The American Council of the Blind commends Reps. Maloney and Bilirakis for introducing this legislation that will improve access to low vision devices for all Americans living with vision loss. Making low vision devices more affordable is imperative to increasing the independence and quality of life for people who are blind and visually impaired, and ACB and our members urge Congress to support this legislation.”

Original co-sponsors of the bill are U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen, D-TN, Adam Schiff, D-CA, and Ann Wagner, R-MO.

Gus Bilirakis | Health | Health Care | Medicare | Tampabay News | News Tampa

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