October 23, 2021

Wv Health

Health Simplified

ASCRS phone calls on Aetna to rescind new plan delaying cataract medical procedures

Previous Thursday, Aetna place into influence a new insurance coverage firm that needs prior authorization for all cataract medical procedures procedures.

In response, members of the American Modern society of Cataract and Refractive Surgical treatment (ASCRS) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) are contacting on the corporation to rescind the coverage.

ASCRS President Richard S. Hoffman, MD, explained in a information launch that the finest two people competent to establish if cataract operation is required are the patient and their ophthalmologist — not an coverage firm.

 “Having an insurance firm, these types of as Aetna, identify if a client really should have surgical procedures does very little to enrich patient care and adds the possible for delaying sight-restoring medical procedures and is at its worst rationing of care,” he said.

During a assembly with the organization previous 7 days, ASCRS and AAO elevated transparency fears and talked about issues from ophthalmologists about the inconsistent guidelines from Aetna staff members and the incapacity to get prior authorization approval for cataract surgical treatment, in accordance to the ASCRS release.

The group stated that Aetna unsuccessful to supply concrete reasoning for the implementation of its new plan as effectively as any examples or rationale driving why all circumstances shifting ahead will be issue to precertification.1

ASCRS even further said that Aetna unsuccessful to tackle the organization’s considerations concerning the operational elements of the application and provided no reduction for the short implementation timeline and its inoperable portal.

In addition, the firm neglected to handle the common guidance line that has resulted in entire confusion for ophthalmologists and, as of July 1, cancelations of cataract surgeries for the beginning of July, in accordance to ASCRS. 

Delaying cataract medical procedures processes — normally scheduled out months in advance and done in a single eye at a time —could likely consequence in many troubles, which includes, as outlined in the information launch:

Further more hardening of the lens, increasing the danger for cataract surgical treatment complications or the have to have for far more invasive surgical treatments.2

  • Affiliation with physical basic safety worries this sort of as elevated danger of automobile crashes,3 maximize possibility of falls,4 and so forth.
  • Reduction in a patient’s high-quality of everyday living5
  • Permanent blindness or impaired visible functionality, specially in small children (the place timeliness is crucial to the developing brain’s pathways).6

With ophthalmology using a hit much more than any other specialty because of to the COVID-19 pandemic,7 cataract surgeries have confronted substantial delays,8 according to investigate.

This existing backlog of individuals that ophthalmologists are currently working to deal with is being further more delayed with Aetna’s new prior authorization plan, the launch said.

“This plan produces an overly burdensome quantity of unwarranted perform for our teams and unnecessarily restricts access to this critical surgery for patients suffering from sight- threatening cataracts,” mentioned Hayley Boling, MBA, COE, member-at-huge, American Modern society of Ophthalmic Directors (ASOA) Board of Administrators, in a assertion. “This mass application of preauthorization requirements sets a unsafe precedent for other insurance policy organizations and results in a slippery slope for other health-related providers and specialties.”


1. ASCRS. Insurance policies corporation coverage delays sight-restoring medical procedures, places people in jeopardy. Offered at: https://ascrs.org/information/ascrs-information/ascrs-push-launch-relating to-prior-authorization-policy. Accessed 7/6/2021.

2. Gogate P, Wooden M. Recognizing ‘high-risk’ eyes prior to cataract surgical procedure. Neighborhood Eye Overall health. 2008 Mar 21(65): 12–14.

3. Schlenker M, Thiruchelvam D, et al. Affiliation of cataract medical procedures with visitors crashes. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2018136(9):998-1007.

4. Brannan S, Dewar C, Clarke D. A prospective analyze of the charge of falls before and right after cataract surgical procedures. Br J Ophthalmol. 2003 May perhaps 87(5): 560–562.

5. Lamoureux E, Fenwick E, et al. The impact of cataract medical procedures on quality of everyday living. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2011 Jan22(1):19-27.

6. Birch E, Stager D. The crucial time period for surgical procedure of dense congenital unilateral cataract. Devote Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1996 Jul37(8):1532-8.

7. Adjustments in Medicare Medical professional Paying out In the course of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Economic and Wellbeing Plan Exploration, American Health care Association, April 2021. PDF.

8. Aggarwal S, Jain P, Jain A. COVID-19 and cataract surgical treatment backlog in Mediciare beneficiaries. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2020 Jul 17 : 10.1097