Prevent Blindness Statement on Medicaid Guidance

As the nation’s leading volunteer eye health organization, Prevent Blindness has consistently advocated for policies that ensure Americans have access to the vision and eye health services they need. We support policies that improve health systems, not undermine them or reduce access to early detection and treatment of eye diseases for children, working-age adults, older Americans, or those who live with chronic illness.

Prevent Blindness is therefore deeply troubled by new guidance issued from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that would exponentially shift Medicaid costs to states. Under this guidance, states could either transition their Medicaid programs into a block grant program or finance their programs using a “per capita aggregate cap” and receive a set amount of federal dollars per enrolled beneficiary. Existing law provides that the federal government annually match state Medicaid spending, regardless of program enrollment or spending level. Under this new directive, in order to meet any shortfall between federal funding and state spending, states would need either to increase Medicaid spending using state-generated funds or restrict access and cut or even eliminate benefits, including vision care, eye health services, and treatment options.

In some states, Medicaid is often the only source of vision and eye care for many adults and children. When 75% of vision loss is preventable and treatable through early detection and intervention, policies that present the most vulnerable with additional barriers to quality, preventive eye care are simply unacceptable. As our population continues to age with increasing rates of chronic disease and changing demographics, our nation needs policies that pave the way for patients to receive essential services that could potentially save them from the significant burden of vision impairment and eye disease.

It is the goal of Prevent Blindness to aim federal policy efforts toward achieving a reversal in the national prevalence of vision problems, saving both sight and dollars for federal and state governments as well as individuals and private institutions. We look forward to working with stakeholders at the state and federal level to encourage policies that promote vision and eye health as a vital aspect of overall health and well-being.