In 1984, the introduction of the Medicare Reform Act, HR 3010, sought to expand coverage so that the elderly would receive reimbursement from both ophthalmologists and optometrists. Since 1965, there have been numerous attempts to have the Federal government redefine the role of optometry in the delivery of vision care. This new definition recognizes the fact that optometrists may provide vision related services other than refraction. This bill along with the companion bill, HR 3009, which was drafted to expand medicare services to the low vision population, failed to be enacted into law. Both bills signal attempts to redefine legislature's understanding of what optometry is providing.
This paper explores the historical development leading up to the 1984 attempts to amend the Medicare Laws, the impact of the presently enacted laws for third party payments in the public sector, and the current legislative directions pursued by ophthalmologists and optometrists.
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