What is the first thing you think of when you hear that the four largest contact lens manufacturers plus the American Optometric Association have created a coalition to influence Congress? Just another day in the life of lobbyists, right? It could be innocent of course. Lots of special interests try to influence congress every day.
Sure, but what if I told you that these big contact lens companies have a history of collusion? Gasp! Shocked face.
Actually, the statistics are so bad that four of the five members of The Coalition for Patient Vision Care Safety have been previously sued by 34 state attorney generals for collusion. They’ve respectively been fined or settled for more than $70 million in financial penalties for attempts to restrain free trade. Okay, bad track record, got it.
So when the Republican Senator from Louisiana, Bill Cassidy presents a bill on their behalf, forgive me if I think Senator Cassidy is playing ball. Having a writer like me question your ethics or even hint at the prospect of out and out collusion may be considered a badge of honor for a US Senator from Louisiana, but to the free market world…it stinks! Senator Cassidy will probably slough off the insinuation at impropriety like water off a ducks back, but that won’t make it any less true.
Here’s the skinny. Senator Cassidy has recently launched a bill called the Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act of 2016. The names of these bills are sometimes quite telling. Telling, in that the lie is right there in the name. The bill has nothing to do with your health and even less to do with contact lenses. The only thing it does for customers is take away freedom to choose and increase prices.
So what does this Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act actually do?
Basically, it lines the pockets of all the right people. It protects and strengthens the ability for the major manufacturers of contact lenses to remain in bed with the Optometrists so they can effectively keep sticking it to American’s who don’ see very well to begin with!
My ancestor helped write the Sherman Antitrust Laws of old, and he’d be rolling over in his grave if he saw what was going on here.
This bill uses new mandates to make it much harder for online sellers of contacts. Through a series of new regulations and requirements it will be more difficult for an online distributor to sell directly to a consumer. The bill goes so far as to actually promote cronyism by strengthening the power of an eye doctor to dictate which lens is appropriate and available to a customer. The cozy relationship between manufacturers and doctors is where the most corruption lies. If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours so to speak.
It actually just gets worse from there. The bill increases the required paperwork, which increases the costs to consumers. It also adds a $40,000 fine for non-compliance with all the new regs.
The legislation goes on to mandate a formal “Study” be conducted on the non-complying companies. The “Study” is another word for “Big Government Coercion”. The study is conducted by the FTC at congress behest. When the Federal Trade Commission shows up to investigate your company…it doesn’t feel like a “Study”, it feels like an assault. The “Study” is a weapon to wield fear of an unchecked tyrannical government. Sadly, it’s our government who is engaging in tyranny, not some communist country far away.
The entire bill is anti-consumer and anti-free market and downright un-American. Senator Cassidy should be ashamed to show his face on the Senate floor as a Republican. At least the Democrats don’t hide their socialist ways. Senator Cassidy is the friend of big government masquerading as a free marketer.
Europeans are free to order whatever contacts they want without a prescription at all, while we are imposing more rules, and why? Money of course, big money.
The incestuous relationship between the eye doctors, the contact lens manufacturers, and now certain Senators must stop.
Nowhere else in our healthcare delivery system do we have the person who prescribes your prescriptions simultaneously selling you the product prescribed! The conflict of interest is so obvious my teenager could read that writing on the wall…without his contacts in!
The Cassidy Bill is a sham and should be cast on the dust bin of history as an example of crony capitalism at its finest or worst!