May 25, 2021

Manchin, Cramer Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill To Increase Access To Dental, Vision Care And Support Patients, Doctors

Legislation would give patients and doctors more control of healthcare decisions and increase access to dental and vision care for patients
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) reintroduced the Dental and Optometric Care (DOC) Access Act to give patients and doctors more control of their healthcare decisions and increase access to dental and vision care. This legislation would allow dentists, optometrists, and ophthalmologists to use the medical labs of their choice and provide clarity for doctors, patients and insurers on what can be charged for services that insurers do not cover.
“Every West Virginian and American deserves access to affordable healthcare, including dental and vision care. My bipartisan DOC Access Act would put the control of healthcare choices in the hands of patients and doctors themselves, instead of insurance companies. This legislation would provide more options and better access to care for patients while also allowing doctors, especially those who operate their own practices as small businesses, more control of decisions. In West Virginia and 43 other states similar laws already exist, and the DOC Access Act would apply these laws to federally regulated dental and vision plans. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bipartisan legislation to give patients and doctors greater control over their healthcare decisions,” said Senator Manchin.
“It is past time we balance the scales and give doctors more choice in deciding the direction of care by allowing them to choose their own materials and lab services, and by increasing fairness in doctor-insurer agreements,” said Senator Cramer. “Our bipartisan legislation would put decision-making power back into the hands of doctors without raising the costs on consumers.”
"Leading into the pandemic and even more so now, greater health care access and choice for patients is a critical mission and the DOC Access Act is an important solution, allowing for greater plan competition, more choice, and lower prices for patients in communities across the country. It empowers patients to be able to make the health care decisions that are right for them, in coordination with their doctors,” said William T. Reynolds, O.D., AOA President. “The AOA and doctors of optometry across the country thank Sens. Manchin and Cramer for prioritizing this bill and the eye health and vision care of all Americans.”
“On behalf of our 162,000 member dentists and their patients, the American Dental Association commends Senators Manchin and Cramer for introducing the Dental and Optometric Care (DOC) Access Act of 2021. The DOC Access Act will provide greater access to high-quality care by helping to curb anti-patient and anti-competitive practices of dental insurance plans. This legislation is crucial to bring needed balance to contract negotiations between providers, who are often small business owners, and large dental insurance companies,” said Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., President of the American Dental Association.
"Health care access and patient choice are important liberties for West Virginians and we are proud to have Senator Manchin, along with Senator Cramer, introduce such an important piece of federal legislation. The DOC Access Act of 2021 will allow all Americans to experience a better doctor-patient relationship based on trust and choice that we know will be in the best interest of the patient's eye health and vision needs," said Laura M. Suppa, O.D., WV Association of Optometric Physicians Legislative Chair.
“On behalf of our West Virginia dentists and their patients, we thank you for introducing the bipartisan Dental and Optometric Care (DOC) Access Act of 2021. We are pleased that West Virginia already has a law in place to prevent the capping of non-covered services, but we know our work is not done until we have a law at the federal level. Thank you for your support of the important legislation,” said Richard Stevens, Executive Director of the West Virginia Dental Association.

The DOC Access Act complements existing laws in 44 states, including West Virginia, and this legislation would apply to federally regulated dental and vision plans, which comprises nearly half of dental and vision coverage in a majority of states.

One pager on the DOC Access Act can be found here.