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April 15, 2010

Bill Provides Vision Care Services To Needy

Yesterday, Governor David A. Paterson signed into law a bill, A.1138, amending the social services law requiring managed care programs to establish procedures to assure that medical assistance recipients receive access to optometric services by clinicians of the SUNY College of Optometry.

According to Dr. David A. Heath, College President, "Over the past several years, as medical assistance recipients have been moved from the State Medicaid program to Medicaid Managed Care plans, recipients have found that a number of plans exclude optometrists from their provider panels. As a result, many of our patients have been forced to seek care elsewhere, or needed to be referred unnecessarily for follow-up care.  Others, who would like to receive eye care services from our clinical faculty, have been unable to do so."  Bill A.1138 will require Medicaid Managed Care plans to include the College's providers on those panels. This action will eliminate unnecessary and costly referrals, while supporting both patient choice and the training of SUNY College of Optometry students who will serve the people of New York as doctors of optometry in the future.

The SUNY College of Optometry's patient care facility, the University Eye Center, (UEC) provides more than 75,000 patient visits a year. According to Dr. Richard  Soden, Vice President for Clinical Affairs, "as a result of the past shift of patients to and exclusion by Medicaid Managed Care plans, the UEC lost approximately 7,000 patients visits a year."

"We are very grateful to State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried for their active roles in helping to enact this legislation," said Dr. Heath.