Industry Advocacy with Lee Nasehi

VisionServe Alliance is a proud member of the Vision Health Advocacy Coalition (VHAC), which through its network of member organizations, promotes patient-centered policies that make life-changing ocular disease treatments, vision rehabilitation services, and devices more accessible for people with vision loss. Together we recently announced our support for S1267A, a bill in New York State that seeks to establish a transparent and timely step therapy process. Recently, VisionServe Alliance acted as a liaison between the VHAC and our New York State member agencies, informing them of the legislation and encouraging their backing.  As a result, seven additional New York State Blind and Vision Impaired (BVI) agencies joined VisionServe Alliance and signed on to a letter of support for this important legislation. 

VSA is proud to bring national initiatives that affect state BVI agencies service delivery to our member organizations.  It is one of the valuable benefits we provide to our membership.

Step Therapy is a cost-saving tactic used by health insurance plans, that often prioritizes insurer cost savings over individualized medication therapies and other physician-prescribed care. This practice, also known as “fail first,” requires patients to try and fail one or more medications before accessing the medication prescribed by their physician. This can be especially burdensome for vision patients, who must manage their complex conditions and treatment regimens while navigating the complexities of the vision rehabilitation and health care systems.

In New York, over 395,000 people have reported blindness or severe difficulty seeing, even with glasses. Unnecessary challenges placed on New York residents to access medically appropriate treatment for their vision conditions can lead to further vision damage, irreversible vision loss, and exacerbate their overall health.

S1267A aims to protect New York residents against unnecessary step therapy protocols. The bill would require insurers to implement comprehensive guidelines, including an exemption process and a clear, timely response requirement for insurers to answer exemption requests.

Treatment decisions for vision patients should be based on Ophthalmologist’s and/or Optometrist’s expertise on the unique challenges of their patients, not a one-size-fits-all insurer-driven step therapy protocol. Vision patients require uninterrupted access to appropriate prescribed medical treatments and vision rehabilitation services.  Such access has been proven to minimize the negative effects of a person’s vision loss and improve their overall quality of life. To that end legislation like S1267A is a step in the right direction towards protecting the vision health of those living with vision loss. It is a model for similar legislation that hopefully will be introduced across the country.

VisionServe Alliance, remains committed to promoting access to prevention and appropriate treatment for people living with vision loss. With all of you, we advocate for the advancement of ocular and vision rehabilitation services science, innovation in services delivery, and patient centered treatments. We seek to educate, healthcare providers, policymakers, and people new to vision loss about the challenges in accessing ophthalmic and vision rehabilitation care. Through continued advocacy and education, together, we will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of the millions of people who live with vision loss..