Prevent Blindness Supports Maintaining Essential Health Benefits that Include Access to Eye Care for Children

On April 26, the House Republican Freedom Caucus revived efforts to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by endorsing an amendment to repeal a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires all insurance plans to cover “essential health benefits.” The amendment, introduced by Representative Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), will allow states to determine what essential health benefits should be offered on insurance markets in their state or apply for waivers from the ACA’s essential health benefits requirements altogether. If enacted, the amendment gives states enormous flexibility to opt out of providing basic medical services, including preventive care, chronic disease management, and vision coverage for children.

Prevent Blindness works to bring Americans to eye care through education, preventive services, and increasing access to care. As the nation’s leading volunteer eye health organization, we support maintaining the essential health benefits as they stand and continue to advocate for policies that improve health systems, not undermine them, and provide patients with access to treatments that prevent vision loss. The House is expected to hold a vote next week on the AHCA, including the MacArthur amendment, after which the Senate will take up amend and debate of the AHCA. If enacted, the AHCA is projected to result in loss of coverage for 24 million Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions and older Americans with chronic illness. Specifically, the amendment to the AHCA proposed by Rep. MacArthur will reduce access to eye care for children and opportunities for early detection and treatment of eye disease.

Please contact your Members of Congress at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to vote NO on the MacArthur amendment and the AHCA.