Patient choice

Kansas ODs get new rights in contracting with plans

Contracting with health, vision and discount card plans just got easier for eye care professionals in Kansas.

"The AOA applauds Kansas for passing this important legislation and is ready to work with states that are looking to pass similar protections in their law."

"On April 18, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed into law a bill that places limits on what health plans can require of optometrists and ophthalmologists.

"The AOA applauds Kansas for passing this important legislation and is ready to work with states that are looking to pass similar protections in their law," says Brian Reuwer, the AOA's associate director of State Government Relations.  

Efforts by the AOA, the Kansas Optometric Association (KOA) and other state optometric associations and organized medicine in Kansas made this possible, says Gary Robbins, the KOA's executive director. The Kansas Society of Eye Physicians as well as the Kansas Medical Society had submitted written testimony to state lawmakers in support of the bill.   

The new law reinforces patient choice, Robbins says. Specifically, it "prohibits a vision care insurance policy or vision care discount card that provides covered services and materials from directly or indirectly limiting the patient's choice of the sources and supplies of those materials," Robbins says.   

The state joins several others in approving similar legislation that prohibits vision plans from forcing discounts on ODs.    

The new law in Kansas specifies:

  • Health plans can no longer require participation in a vision plan as a prerequisite to ODs serving on medical panels, or require that ODs provide non-covered discount eye care services to patients.
  • An OD's participation in a discount card program is now completely voluntary—not conditioned upon participation in another discount card program or insurance plan.
  • ODs no longer have to participate in one vision care plan as a condition of participating in another plan.
  • Any changes to terms, discounts or rates in a contract must get written approval from the OD.

All of these stipulations "reinforce the doctor-patient relationship, the OD's professional judgment, and their ability to compete in the materials market," Robbins says.    

The bill passed the state Senate and House of Representatives without a dissenting vote, despite strong opposition from health plans, he says.  

States interested in learning more about the Kansas legislation should contact Brian Reuwer at the AOA's Washington Office at 703-837-1343 or breuwer@aoa.org.

May 2, 2014

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