Legislature approves Padden-backed bill to let Lions Clubs and other charities provide free glasses, hearing aids

Mike PaddenSen. Mike Padden today applauded the Legislature for approving a measure to shield, against civil lawsuits, charitable organizations working to provide much-needed eyewear and hearing aids to poor, homeless and uninsured people. The House voted 98-0 yesterday to approve his rewrite of House Bill 2261. The bill’s language is now similar to that of Senate Bill 6216, which was sponsored by Padden and passed unanimously in the Senate before stalling in the House.

“I applaud my colleagues in both the House and the Senate for their overwhelming support for this important bill,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley.

Padden has been working with civic organizations and Rep. Dean Takko, the Longview Democrat who introduced HB 2261, to shepherd the measure through the legislative process.

“Organizations such as the Union Gospel Mission and Lions Club International are working to improve the vision of thousands of poor and uninsured people in eastern Washington by distributing donated eyeglasses to those who otherwise would go without,” said Padden. “By protecting these organizations against civil lawsuits, legislators in the House and Senate have freed those organizations to continue their support for the state’s most needy citizens.”

HB 2261 responds to a Washington Board of Optometry decision last year that interpreted federal law as preventing the redistribution of used glasses without a prescription.

The bill also includes a provision that expands the immunity to hearing instruments only if the hearing instruments are provided by an osteopathic physician or a hearing health-care professional who has personally examined the recipient.

Generally, Medicare does not cover eyeglasses, contact lenses, routine hearing exams or hearing aids of any type.

The measure now goes to the governor for her signature.