New Cherokee Nation eyeglass program aims to help more citizens
The Cherokee Nation’s previous eyeglass program had been in place for more than 10 years, with more restrictions. Under a new program, eligibility requirements have been updated so more CN citizens can get needed eyewear. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Beginning Aug. 17, the Cherokee Nation and its Health Services started a voucher program to help more CN citizens purchase eyeglasses regardless of age, income or health diagnosis.
The program will help citizens who have been examined by a Health Services optometry provider to buy eyewear with a $200 voucher, according to a CN press release.
“You have this whole group of people that are not (eligible),” Health Services Executive Director Dr. Stephen Jones said in a previous Cherokee Phoenix article, adding that the changes would “allow anyone that comes to our clinics and gets an exam to be eligible” for eyeglasses at no cost via a voucher.
“It’s going to close that gap up of people who aren’t being eligible without medical necessity,” he said.
The previous eyeglass program had been in place for more than 10 years, with more restrictions. Eligibility requirements have also been updated so more CN citizens can have the opportunity to get needed eyewear.
Under previous regulations, the eyeglass voucher program was restricted to students and those over 55 years of age or for medical necessity, states the Cherokee Phoenix article.
CN citizen Chris Cochran received glasses under the old program, being diabetic and paying no out of pocket costs or copay due to medical necessity and also using his insurance through his job.
“I had the eye exam, picked out my glasses and they fitted them to my face when they came in. I had no copay. I am diabetic so I didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket. I would say it was a pretty easy process and I liked the variety of selection they offered,” Cochran said.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr said that by opening this program to all CN citizens he hopes it will ease some financial burden during difficult times as citizens recover from impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cherokees, no matter their age, income or where they live should have access to quality prescription eyewear,” Hoskin said. “Eyeglasses can be expensive and Cherokees shouldn’t have to choose between seeing clearly and purchasing food or other emergency needs for their families.”
The $200 voucher will go toward a new pair of glasses and add-ons such as transitions, anti-glare and progressive lenses can be purchased by the wearer if costs exceed the voucher amount.
Eligible participants must be CN citizens and get their exams and prescriptions through a CN health facility.
“We are proud to announce this update to our eyeglass program that provides Cherokees with greater access to care,” Jones said. “This is, and has been, our mission from the beginning. By removing obstacles, we are able to increase access and serve more communities. Better vision means better health and quality of life for this and future generations.”
For information visit health.cherokee.org