One thing you must admit about Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and the American Optometric Association (AOA): They are tenacious.

For years, they have labored diligently to manipulate the vision health care market with biased research to pass legislation that gives them an unfair advantage over their competitors.  Although they continue to lose, that doesn’t stop them from plugging away.

Just last week, 5,000 AOA representatives flew into Capitol Hill to knock on lawmakers’ doors. These door-to-door lobbyists are working to take choice away from consumers with the help of a government-created monopoly.

The AOA already spends almost $2 million a year at the federal level trying to crush any free market competition. But last week’s fly-in campaign was a new act of desperation by lobbyists trying to pressure lawmakers into backing their crony legislation.

It’s no wonder honest optometrists like Stephen Dincher from Connecticut call the AOA “nothing but a lobbying force for regulatory capture.”

J&J and the AOA claim that their number-one priority is eye care and patient safety. As industry giants, they claim that it is their duty to fight for legislation that protects consumers from themselves.  They have stressed the importance of “in-person vision care,” something they claim can be safely performed only by optometrists. The only problem with these claims is that they are based on false, inaccurate data that were thoroughly debunked last year by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In 2016, the FTC did a complete review of the purported health risk data the AOA was using to prop up the Contact Lens Consumer Health Act (S. 2777), which sought to crack down on the sale of contact lenses by third-party vendors.  The FTC saw no “reliable empirical evidence to support a finding that such [third-party] sales are contributing to an increased incidence, or increased risk, of contact lens-related eye problems.”

That’s right: even though the AOA’s data has been disproven at the highest levels of the federal government, the AOA’s lobbyists still had the audacity to peddle their false reports all over Capitol Hill last week.  Apparently, J&J and the AOA are using their own version of fake news in the hope that “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

The only problem with that theory is that even the AOA doesn’t actually believe it.  Its website clearly states that a healthy adult needs an in-person eye exam only once every two years.  For years, J&J worked with the AOA to push for legislation that would deny patients easy access to their prescriptions and indefinitely extend the current eight-hour time limit optometrists have to respond to third-party vendor filling requests.  They continue to cite inaccurate research in the hope of passing laws that would guarantee optometrists a captive clientele, obediently returning year after year to buy their contact lenses – and, of course, the prescription would in many cases be for a J&J product.

J&J claims that these restrictions are necessary because nothing is more important to the company than its consumers’ eye health.  The argument falls apart when you consider all the vending machines scattered throughout Europe and Asia selling J&J contact lenses directly to the consumer with no prescription needed, let alone an in-person eye exam.

Since efforts to tighten the consumer restrictions on contact lens purchases have stalled in Washington, the AOA fly-in has decided to go in another direction to once again cripple the free market.  Thanks to new technology that can give you a full eye exam over your smartphone, a yearly visit to an in-person optometrist is becoming even more unnecessary.  There are now phone apps like Opternative, Simple Contacts, and GlassesOn that can perform an eye exam at any time of your choosing in your home for a greatly reduced fee.  The prescription is then verified by a board-certified ophthalmologist, and the consumer is free to shop anywhere he chooses to find the best deal when ordering contact lenses.

This new technology has sent the AOA into a panic because its members know that cost-cutting vision care phone apps are going to cut deeply into their profits.  Costs for utilizing phone apps are as low as $40, compared to the average cost of $128 at the optometrist’s office.  The thought of having to compete in that market is terrifying to a group accustomed to having their clients locked into paying for an exam year after year.  It’s no wonder these eye care professionals are willing to fly into Washington looking for members of Congress willing to once again push their crony legislation.

The AOA’s last line of defense is that in-person eye exams pick up on keratitis and other eye-related diseases that would not be found if relying on the results from one of these smartphone apps.  They are conveniently forgetting that even users of this technology still need to receive a comprehensive eye exam every two years. 

The CLCHPA legislation is the AOA’s best hope to completely ban third-party lens sellers, such as Walmart, Costco, and a multitude of online sellers.  If passed, CLCHPA will give the members of the AOA unbridled authority to veto prospective third-party transactions.  CLCHPA will give the AOA the ability not just to respond to the requested order and essentially pocket-veto the patient’s order; it will also work to remove consumers’ option to order directly from the web or discount store.  They will once again be at the mercy of their optometrists regarding price and product selection.

Without a doubt, the members of the AOA are looking out only for themselves, not for their patients’ interests.  Their safety argument is unfounded, and their drive to push more regulation on the industry is nothing more than cronyism, plain and simple.  Congress needs to stop protecting an industry that chooses to put a stranglehold on patients.  It is time to move forward and accept innovations that will better serve all consumers. 

One thing you must admit about Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and the American Optometric Association (AOA): They are tenacious.

For years, they have labored diligently to manipulate the vision health care market with biased research to pass legislation that gives them an unfair advantage over their competitors.  Although they continue to lose, that doesn’t stop them from plugging away.

Just last week, 5,000 AOA representatives flew into Capitol Hill to knock on lawmakers’ doors. These door-to-door lobbyists are working to take choice away from consumers with the help of a government-created monopoly.

The AOA already spends almost $2 million a year at the federal level trying to crush any free market competition. But last week’s fly-in campaign was a new act of desperation by lobbyists trying to pressure lawmakers into backing their crony legislation.

It’s no wonder honest optometrists like Stephen Dincher from Connecticut call the AOA “nothing but a lobbying force for regulatory capture.”

J&J and the AOA claim that their number-one priority is eye care and patient safety. As industry giants, they claim that it is their duty to fight for legislation that protects consumers from themselves.  They have stressed the importance of “in-person vision care,” something they claim can be safely performed only by optometrists. The only problem with these claims is that they are based on false, inaccurate data that were thoroughly debunked last year by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In 2016, the FTC did a complete review of the purported health risk data the AOA was using to prop up the Contact Lens Consumer Health Act (S. 2777), which sought to crack down on the sale of contact lenses by third-party vendors.  The FTC saw no “reliable empirical evidence to support a finding that such [third-party] sales are contributing to an increased incidence, or increased risk, of contact lens-related eye problems.”

That’s right: even though the AOA’s data has been disproven at the highest levels of the federal government, the AOA’s lobbyists still had the audacity to peddle their false reports all over Capitol Hill last week.  Apparently, J&J and the AOA are using their own version of fake news in the hope that “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

The only problem with that theory is that even the AOA doesn’t actually believe it.  Its website clearly states that a healthy adult needs an in-person eye exam only once every two years.  For years, J&J worked with the AOA to push for legislation that would deny patients easy access to their prescriptions and indefinitely extend the current eight-hour time limit optometrists have to respond to third-party vendor filling requests.  They continue to cite inaccurate research in the hope of passing laws that would guarantee optometrists a captive clientele, obediently returning year after year to buy their contact lenses – and, of course, the prescription would in many cases be for a J&J product.

J&J claims that these restrictions are necessary because nothing is more important to the company than its consumers’ eye health.  The argument falls apart when you consider all the vending machines scattered throughout Europe and Asia selling J&J contact lenses directly to the consumer with no prescription needed, let alone an in-person eye exam.

Since efforts to tighten the consumer restrictions on contact lens purchases have stalled in Washington, the AOA fly-in has decided to go in another direction to once again cripple the free market.  Thanks to new technology that can give you a full eye exam over your smartphone, a yearly visit to an in-person optometrist is becoming even more unnecessary.  There are now phone apps like Opternative, Simple Contacts, and GlassesOn that can perform an eye exam at any time of your choosing in your home for a greatly reduced fee.  The prescription is then verified by a board-certified ophthalmologist, and the consumer is free to shop anywhere he chooses to find the best deal when ordering contact lenses.

This new technology has sent the AOA into a panic because its members know that cost-cutting vision care phone apps are going to cut deeply into their profits.  Costs for utilizing phone apps are as low as $40, compared to the average cost of $128 at the optometrist’s office.  The thought of having to compete in that market is terrifying to a group accustomed to having their clients locked into paying for an exam year after year.  It’s no wonder these eye care professionals are willing to fly into Washington looking for members of Congress willing to once again push their crony legislation.

The AOA’s last line of defense is that in-person eye exams pick up on keratitis and other eye-related diseases that would not be found if relying on the results from one of these smartphone apps.  They are conveniently forgetting that even users of this technology still need to receive a comprehensive eye exam every two years. 

The CLCHPA legislation is the AOA’s best hope to completely ban third-party lens sellers, such as Walmart, Costco, and a multitude of online sellers.  If passed, CLCHPA will give the members of the AOA unbridled authority to veto prospective third-party transactions.  CLCHPA will give the AOA the ability not just to respond to the requested order and essentially pocket-veto the patient’s order; it will also work to remove consumers’ option to order directly from the web or discount store.  They will once again be at the mercy of their optometrists regarding price and product selection.

Without a doubt, the members of the AOA are looking out only for themselves, not for their patients’ interests.  Their safety argument is unfounded, and their drive to push more regulation on the industry is nothing more than cronyism, plain and simple.  Congress needs to stop protecting an industry that chooses to put a stranglehold on patients.  It is time to move forward and accept innovations that will better serve all consumers. 



Source link

About the Author:

Leave a Reply