News

Republicans Propose Plan to Repeal, Replace Obamacare

House Republicans unveiled legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act —the first step to deliver on a campaign promise to replace the 2010 health care law. The proposed legislation, called the American Health Care Act, would create a new tax credit tied to an individual’s age and income, aimed at helping Americans buy insurance if they don’t get it at work.1 The legislation would also end a requirement to have coverage, and would eventually eliminate many taxes used to fund the current health care law, known as ObamaCare.

According to a breakdown provided by Bloomberg,2 here are some of the key provisions included in the proposed legislation:

• An advanceable, refundable tax credit to help buy insurance for individuals, that phases out for people making more than $75,000 ($150,000 for a couple filing jointly). The size of the credit grows with age and the number of people in a family.

• Immediately ends a requirement that individuals have insurance coverage and another rule that requires some businesses to offer coverage to their workers.

• Expands the allowable size of health-care savings accounts that can be coupled with high-deductible insurance plans, up to $6,550 for an individual or $13,100 for a family.

• Winds down Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid. Changes it to a per-capita system, where states are given a set amount for the number of people in categories including the disabled, elderly, childless adults and pregnant mothers.

• Requires “continuous” insurance coverage. Individuals who go uninsured face a 30% higher premium as a penalty.

• Gives states a $100 billion fund over a decade to help lower-income people afford insurance, and to help stabilize state insurance markets. The fund could be used to help lower patients’ out of pocket costs or to promote access to preventive services.

A copy of the legislation, which is in two parts, can be found here and here.

EyewireTV coverage of the proposed health care legistlation can be found here.

1. Introducing the American Health Care Act. https://housegop.leadpages.co/healthcare/. Accessed March 8, 2017.ng the American Health Care ActIntroducing the American Heal.

2. Tracer Z, Edney A, Dennis S. “Republicans Unveil Health Care Bill to Bridge Gaps in Party.” Bloomberg. www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-06/republicans-unveil-legislation-to-repeal-and-replace-obamacare. Accessed March 6, 2017.

Johnson & Johnson Acquires Abbott Medical Optics

Johnson & Johnson acquired Abbott Medical Optics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Abbott, according to a news release. The all-cash $4.325 billion acquisition includes ophthalmic products in three areas of patient care: cataract surgery, laser refractive surgery, and consumer eye health. These product lines will join with the Acuvue brand contact lenses business, and the combined organization will operate under the name Johnson & Johnson Vision.

Topcon Introduces New Slit Lamp

Topcon Medical Systems released the SL-D301 Slit Lamp, a basic clinical slit lamp that covers all aspects of an eye examination. It has a tower illumination system with a halogen bulb that houses the slit mechanism and four incorporated filters: cobalt blue, red-free, 13% neutral density, and ultraviolet cut, per a company press release. The SL-D301 comes with a Galilean-type observation system and has three magnifications that are adjustable by a rotating drum. It can be used with the R-900 and 870 applanation tonometers.

Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation Calls Upon Eye Care Professionals to Help Educate Public

April 2017 marks the 19th annual Sjögren’s Awareness Month. Once again, The Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation (SSF), along with members and volunteers across the country, will unite to continue its mission of educating patients and families about Sjögren’s, an autoimmune disorder affecting more than 4 million Americans, with an estimated 2.5 million patients currently undiagnosed.

“Our goal is to increase public and health care professional awareness of Sjögren’s, further shorten the time for correct diagnosis, which now takes an average of 3 years, and encourage research into new treatments and a cure for one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders affecting approximately 1%of the US population,” Steven Taylor, SSF’s CEO, said in a news release.

Each day during Sjögren’s Awareness Month, the SSF will be using one or more of its social media channels to educate consumers, health care professionals and others by providing facts about the disease, offering resources, and sharing stories of those with Sjögren’s to help others visualize and better understand what it is like to suffer from Sjögren’s.

“Dry eye is a common early symptom of Sjögren’s and eye care professionals are often on the frontline of diagnosis,” Mr. Taylor said. “We encourage eye care professionals to help us spread the word by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and sharing, and commenting on selected posts issued from these channels, using our #ThisisSjogrens hashtag.”

Twitter (@SjogrensOrg)

Facebook (@SjogrensSyndromeFoundation)

Linked In (Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation)

“Sjögren’s is often referred to as an ‘invisible disease,’ because while patients may experience extreme discomfort, their symptoms are not clearly visible to others,” Stephen Cohen, OD, SSF’s chairman of the board, said. “With the added support of eye care professionals and industry partners, we believe we can shine a light on Sjögren’s to ensure greater awareness and understanding of this often-debilitating disease and help patients get an early diagnosis and proper treatment that may prevent serious complications and greatly improve their quality of life.”

An integral part of achieving SSF’s goal also involves ensuring a comprehensive understating of Sjögren’s by health care professionals. The SSF works closely with health care providers to ensure quality and consistency of care for the assessment and management of patients with Sjögren’s. In 2016, The Foundation, with the assistance of hundreds of eye care professionals developed and published the first US Clinical Guidelines for Ocular Management in Sjögren’s Patients, which helps to standardize patient care by giving eye care professionals a roadmap of how to treat and manage Sjögren’s patients. These guidelines may be downloaded at www.sjogrens.org/files/research/OcularCPG.pdf.

For more information on Sjögren’s, visit www.sjogrens.org.