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April 2, 2008 > Vision care legislation for local government retirees

Vision care legislation for local government retirees

Bill to benefit retired firefighters, police officers, educators, and librarians

Submitted By Chris Parman

Assembly member Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) announced on Tuesday, March 25, that her vision care bill, AB 1997, passed the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security by a 4 - 1 vote. The bill will allow over 1,500 local government entities that contract with CalPERS to offer vision care to their retirees, including firefighters, police officers, educators, and librarians.

"Vision care is a vital part of maintaining overall good health, and we need to ensure that there is affordable access to this important service, especially for retirees who have done so much for the public good," stated Hayashi. "Not only can regular eye exams and conscious vision care make a difference in how well we see as we get older, but they also help to detect diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and glaucoma that otherwise might go undiagnosed and untreated."

Vision care is an important, yet under-appreciated, preventive health care service. The National Institutes of Health estimates that over 11 million Americans have an uncorrected visual impairment. The Eye Digest reports that one in 28 Americans aged 40 or older are suffering from low vision or blindness, creating a national need for education, regular screenings and access to vision care programs.

To promote access to this health care service, AB 1997 will establish a Vision Care Program for annuitants retired from local agencies that contract with CalPERS for retirement benefits. Retired local public employees must meet qualification standards that will be established by this bill, and pay a premium that will be determined by CalPERS for vision care treatment. AB 1997 is sponsored by the Public Retired Employees Association of California

Hayashi serves the 18th Assembly District, which includes San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin, most of Castro Valley and Pleasanton, and a portion of Oakland, as well as the unincorporated areas of Ashland, Cherryland, Sunol and San Lorenzo.

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