California Legislators Approve Bill to Allow Sale of Stand-Alone Adult Vision Coverage Via Link from State Insurance Exchange

By

Ken Cooley, Calif. Assembly Member 8th
District member.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Assembly Bill No. 1877 (AB 1877) requiring the Covered California state health insurance exchange to link buyers to a separate website selling adult vision coverage passed the California Assembly unanimously (73-0) earlier this week on Monday Aug. 25, 2014, following its unanimous approval in the California State Senate (36-0) last week on Thursday Aug. 21, 2014. If signed by California Governor Jerry Brown, AB 1877 will create the California Vision Care Access Council to develop a website to help consumers compare adult vision plans.
 
Because the Affordable Care Act that led to the establishment of public state insurance exchanges does not allow the actual transaction to be completed within the exchange itself and prevents federal subsidies to be used for the sale of non-essential benefits, the council and website will be funded solely by vision health care plans that voluntarily participate.
 
Following passage of the law, after buyers on the Covered California insurance exchange complete their applications they will be asked if they are interested in vision coverage for adults. They will then be routed to an external website where they will access information on providers and purchase options. Over a year ago, a similar decision was made in Colorado to offer stand-alone vision plans via a link that appears during the health insurance enrollment process, as reported by VMail June 24, 2013.
 
“AB 1877 helps deliver access to vision care for adults who are signing up with Covered California. A lack of vision coverage is a serious gap in the new health care plans. This takes us one step further in providing complete health care coverage for Californians and will give thousands of adults the opportunity to access necessary vision care,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assembly Member Ken Cooley, who represents the 8th Assembly District in California, which includes Rancho Cordova.

His district includes the headquarters of the country’s largest vision care company, VSP Vision Care, with more than 71 million members and a network of 30,000 eye doctors. It is also home to managed vision care company, Superior Vision, which covers more than 8.5 million members nationwide with a provider network that surpasses 55,000 access points after its merger with Block Vision, as reported by VMail Dec. 4, 2013.
 
About AB 1877, Jim McGrann, president of VSP Vision Care, said, “Access to eyecare is important for everyone. Assemblyman Ken Cooley's support of AB 1877 and the unanimous approval by the California State Assembly and Senate reaffirm our belief that all Californians, including Covered California enrollees, deserve access to stand-alone vision plans.

“Already considered an essential benefit for children, eye exams are proven to improve health outcomes and help control health care costs. We're hopeful that, as AB 1877 heads to the desk of Governor Brown, adults who enroll in Covered California will soon have the same access to vision care.”