DECEMBER 7, 2023

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FY 2024 Congressional Legislative and Appropriations Update

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October and November, in Congress, were… well, let’s just say the Thanksgiving holiday break happened at the right time! Back in September, the federal government was on the brink of a shutdown— and by the way, Prevent Blindness had 42 advocates reach out to their Members of Congress via the Eyes on Capitol Hill Legislative Action Center to urge passage of a Continuing Resolution (CR) that would keep federal agencies funded until agreement could be reached on final FY2024 funding legislation, so thank you advocates! Just in time, Congress did agree to extend funding until November 17; however, passing the CR meant that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy was removed from his position. Without a Speaker of the House, Congress cannot address any legislation or spending decisions and so any progress on spending bills stalled for the 3 weeks that the House was without a Speaker of the House.

Under new leadership by elected Speaker of the House Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA), the House slowly moved toward consideration of all 12 FY 2024 appropriations spending bills—including the Labor-Health and Human Services- Education bill, which includes funding for the CDC’s Vision and Eye Health and Glaucoma programs. The House has proposed for FY 2024 to consolidate the Vision and Eye Health and Glaucoma lines into one funding line of $6.5 million. You can read the legislation by clicking on this link. Once again, Congress needed to either pass all FY 2024 spending bills or a CR by Friday, November 17. Facing significant political pressures and the time crunch of the Thanksgiving holiday, Congress chose the latter option. Currently, a CR is in place on the Labor-HHS-Ed. legislation until February 2, 2024.

Ultimately, CRs are not good policy as explained in this helpful one-pager from the Coalition for Health Funding titled “Government Shutdowns Harm Public Health.” Prevent Blindness continues to reach out to Members of Congress to advocate for federal funding for vision and eye health. As we approach 2024 and the upcoming February 2024 deadline to complete passage of the Labor-HHS-Ed. legislation, please be sure you are signed up to receive Advocacy Alerts so that you can stay involved in vision and eye health advocacy.

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Vision Policy Update

Prevent Blindness Eyes on Capitol Hill

Prevent Blindness advocates for policies that improve vision and eye health, and we had an active fourth quarter in Washington.

Congressional Vision Caucus adds a new Member! We were thrilled to welcome Representative Marc Veasey (D-TX-33) as the newest Member of the Congressional Vision Caucus.

TAKE ACTION! Invite your Member of Congress to join the Congressional Vision Caucus by sending them a message through our Eyes on Capitol Hill Legislative Action Center.

Step Therapy, Prior Authorization, and the Vision Patient: Prevent Blindness has joined other patient advocacy groups to urge Congress to include S. 652/HR 2630, the Safe Step Act with legislation that brings reforms to the pharmacy benefit management industry. Relatedly, the Vision Health Advocacy Coalition has issued a new fact sheet titled “How Utilization Management Harms Vision Patients” and the National Health Council has released a report titled “Exploring the Burdens of Prior Authorization on Patients.”

TAKE ACTION! If you are a patient who has experienced delays in treatment due to step therapy and prior authorization policies, please Share Your Story with Prevent Blindness.

Prevent Blindness has endorsed legislation to make the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) permanent. The legislation, H.R. 4771, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Permanency (CHIPP) Act, is currently under consideration in the House. 


The ASPECT Patient Engagement Program addresses the need to support individuals with vision loss, as well as their allies and advocates. Participating in ASPECT provides skills to to become an advocate for change. 

The next ASPECT cohort will begin in late January. The deadline to apply is Friday, January 19, 2024. To learn more, refer someone, and/or apply to participate in the program, visit our website or call Julie Grutzmacher at 312-363-6032 or email her at: [email protected].

ASPECT Program Sightings

Rochelle Neutra, MSN, FNP-BC, ASPECT Program graduated joined Prevent Blindness at the American Academy of Ophthalmology conference
American Academy of Ophthalmology conference, November 4, 2023.

Rochelle Neutra, MSN, FNP-BC, Patient; Provider; Advocate; ASPECT Program Graduate joined the Prevent Blindness team at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) conference on November 4th in San Francisco, CA to share her perspective on important considerations for engaging patients with visual impairment and blindness in vision-related research.  

Julie Grutzmacher (Prevent Blindness, Joy Harris (ASPECT member and Kira Baldonado (Prevent Blindness) at the Prevent Blindness annual meeting in November

Joy Harris, MPH, MBA, (middle) Health Education Supervisor at the Macon-Bibb County Health Department and ASPECT graduate joined the Prevent Blindness annual Board meeting on November 8 to share her experience of how participating in ASPECT broadened her awareness of vision and eye health as a crucial public health topic. After getting connected with Prevent Blindness Georgia affiliate and making connections at the local level, she has successfully integrated on-site vision services to the health department. 

ASPECT Member Spotlight: Coya Gonzales and Her Journey with Thyroid Eye Disease

Coya Gonzales, ASPECT Patient Engagement Program Member

Last year my eyes began to change. The pair that I had known for over 40 years, no longer matched one another. My left eye was much larger than usual, watered excessively and constantly felt like there was a wind flowing through it. It was extremely sensitive to light as well. I knew this wasn’t an allergic reaction and so I scheduled a doctor’s appointment with my primary physician.

My physician was booked for months and so I chose to see a colleague in her group. Unfortunately, I felt very unheard, dismissed, and frustrated with this doctor. When I requested to do bloodwork, it didn’t seem necessary enough and when I questioned other possibilities my eye issue could be, only allergies was offered. I knew this was going nowhere fast and was determined to find answers. It didn’t make sense to me that my eye issue was determined as allergies and only one eye was the issue and no allergy test had been done. So instead of settling for this diagnosis, I decided to get a second opinion. 

This path led me to multiple referrals for testing and specialists whose intentions were aligned with mine - find the answer not a hypothesis. Months went by before we got to the destination - Thyroid Eye Disease. Now that I knew what was happening with my eye(s) and why. The solution of an infusion treatment came next.

I felt very grateful and supported by a team of professionals that was created to help me with my health and most of all I was very proud of myself. Advocating for my health is imperative - if I don’t do it who will? This has always been the question, the drive, the dance.

Connect with ASPECT alumni on our Facebook Group

ASPECT Facebook Group

To join, click the link above, and request to join the group. Membership in the group is optional and limited to those who have graduated from or supported the program. If you have any issues locating the Facebook group and requesting to join, please email Penny at [email protected].

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