Congressional Directive Will Delay Implementation of the FTC Contact Lens Rule

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WASHINGTON—The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (APS) said late Monday that Congress has taken action “to delay the implementation, effective date and enforcement of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) updated Contact Lens Rule until March 31, 2021.” The changes to the recently updated Contact Lens Rule were set out in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021—or what has been referred to this month as a massive stimulus and coronavirus recovery bill that provides $600 to many Americans, according to the APS announcement.

The FTC’s updated Contact Lens Rule—with record-keeping requirements that many ECPs viewed as onerous—had gone into effect on Oct. 17, as VMAIL reported.

According to the APS announcement, the recently passed omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2021 allowed a directive about the FTC’s Contact Lens Rule—a directive that was included in a House Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) report—to “stand as the operative language directing the FTC’s treatment of the Rule.”

At VMAIL’s press time, neither APS officials nor the FTC enforcement office could be reached for additional comment or clarification.

Dr. Deanna Alexander, OD, chairwoman of APS, said in the group’s announcement: “Patient safety advocates from across the country applaud Congress for acting to protect patients by delaying the effective date of the Contact Lens Rule. While we are appreciative of Congress’ work, we resolve to continue fighting for patient safety next year when Congress returns.

"Along with our supporters in both the House and Senate, the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety will tirelessly advocate for policy that prevents harmful inaccurate contact lens prescriptions from being shipped to patients and onerous regulations being forced upon local doctors.”

Among the requirements of the FTC’s new CL rule are requirements related to robocalls and paperwork/record keeping for ODs. More information about the FTC’s changes is available in this VMAIL report.

The U.S. House’s FSGG report can be read here.

In part, it states:

“Contact Lenses.—The Committee is disappointed that the FTC’s final amendments to the Contact Lens Rule do not sufficiently address the patient safety concerns the Committee has repeatedly outlined in report language for the past four years. The rule fails to sufficiently modernize the prescription verification process by eliminating the use of robocalls and imposes new burdensome paperwork requirements on providers and patients.

"To allow providers sufficient time to implement the necessary changes and to prevent additional interruptions in service due to the coronavirus, the Committee directs the FTC to delay the effective date for the amendments, and to suspend any implementation or enforcement of those amendments, until March 31, 2021.”