EYECARE: Coronavirus BRIEFING: Crisis Response Tactics Vision Benefits of America Expands its Interest-Free Loan Program to Assist Independent ODs in Ohio, New Jersey By Staff Thursday, May 7, 2020 12:18 AM PITTSBURGH—Vision Benefits of America Inc. (VBA), a commercial group benefits organization, has announced greater access to its Pennsylvania Optometric Emergency Assistance Program (POEAP) for independent ECPs. The program is designed to assist optometry businesses facing unprecedented challenges due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). “VBA is proud to expand the reach of the POEAP to also support optometrists in New Jersey and Ohio,” VBA president and chief executive officer Jeff Hollowood said in the announcement.“After seeing tremendous response to the original program in Pennsylvania, VBA is privileged to offer funds totaling at least $1 million for the continuation of business operations to more optometric practices in our network,” he said. The POEAP is now open to any independent optometry practice located in New Jersey, Ohio or Pennsylvania with payments from VBA totaling $5,000 or more in 2019. Interest-free loans will be available in the amounts of $7,500, $10,000, $15,000 or $25,000 and can be repaid over a 24-month period beginning in January of 2021.“While governmental restrictions against the performance of elective procedures are just starting to be lifted in some areas, we know many of our providers will still need access to cash for purposes of restoring operations,” Hollowood said. “During these challenging times, it is important that we support as many of our local businesses as possible in recognition of the great work that they do in our communities and for our members.”As a nonprofit, VBA was founded by independent optometrists in the state of Pennsylvania to offer low-cost eyecare to Pennsylvania residents. 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 continue to offer high-quality eyecare to residents of New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.