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Government u-turn on cost of glasses

Level of reimbursement for prescription glasses in 2015 to be set at €450 rather than €350, as announced in March

THE FRENCH government has performed a u-turn on plans to cap the amount of money paid back to people who need prescription glasses, following an outcry from opticians.

Next year, the cap on State reimbursements will be set at €450, rather than €350, as announced in March, Les Echos reports.

Further planned cuts, to €200 by 2018, have been shelved, the report said.

The revised figure follows a meeting between economy minister Arnaud Montebourg and optical industry representatives.

The cap is part of the government’s plan to cut the amount if pays out in complementary health insurance and follows in the wake of the consumer protection bill, or Hamon law, which came into effect in February. Part of the new bill aims to open up the sale of glasses to greater competition from internet-based suppliers.

But the original scheme, outlined in March, angered opticians, and manufacturers of optical equipment, who voiced concern about the impact of what they call the government’s “hidden delisting” of optical equipment.

Hubert Sagnières, CEO of opthalmic industry leader Essilor which has 11 plants in France, welcomed the government turnaround. He said: "It seems that the French has government opened some doors, and at least, started listening to us."

Despite reports, the government has insisted that nothing has been finalised, and discussions are ongoing.

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