EYECARE: Coronavirus BRIEFING Vision Benefits of America to Offer Loans to Independent Practices in Pennsylvania Facing COVID-19 Related Challenges By Staff Monday, April 13, 2020 12:27 AM PITTSBURGH Pa.—Vision Benefits of America Inc. (VBA), a commercial group benefits organization, plans to announce today a new initiative for Pennsylvania optometric practices, the Pennsylvania Optometric Emergency Assistance Program. The new initiative is designed to assist optometry businesses “facing unprecedented challenges due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19),” according to the organization’s announcement. “VBA is proud to support Pennsylvania optometrists through its interest-free loan program,” VBA president and chief executive officer Jeff Hollowood said in the announcement. “While only a small-sized, regional non-profit carrier, VBA is privileged to offer funds totaling at least $1 million for continuation of business operations to optometric practices in our network.”The Pennsylvania Optometric Emergency Assistance Program will be open to any independent optometry practice located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with payments from VBA totaling $15,000 or more for the year 2019. Interest-free loans will be available in the amounts of $10,000, $15,000 or $25,000 and can be repaid over a 24-month period beginning in January of 2021. “It is our hope the proceeds of this program will assist optometric practices in restoring operations and continuing the great work that they do in our communities,” Hollowood said. “During these challenging times, it is important that we support local businesses and explore ways to be more prepared for future challenges.”As a nonprofit, VBA was founded by independent optometrists in the state of Pennsylvania to offer low-cost eyecare to Pennsylvania residents. Today, VBA’s mission is to improve the human experience by utilizing innovative models of service, delivery and advocacy to reduce barriers to high-quality eyecare. With an eye on its roots, VBA developed the Pennsylvania Optometric Emergency Assistance Program in order to help independent optometrists in Pennsylvania continue to offer high-quality eyecare to residents of the Commonwealth.VBA is reaching out to each eligible practice this week to provide more information regarding the program and the next steps toward obtaining an interest-free loan.