“I have to wear glasses all of the time. I’m looking at the TV and I can’t make out what’s going on without glasses,” said Posey, 79, who bought his current pair at Costco. “Even when I have them on I’m not seeing clearly anymore.”

Posey says he’s old so he’ll make do. But the retired UC Berkeley worker feels bad for younger people who need glasses to work, especially if they do construction or operate dangerous machinery.

The question in the Capitol now: Is it time to restore several health benefits the state took from Medi-Cal recipients a decade ago, including the clearer vision that eyeglasses provide?

In 2009, state lawmakers—confronting a recession and budget shortfalls—opted to save state money by eliminating several Medi-Cal benefits, mainly for adults, that the federal government didn’t specifically require. The list of lost services included dental, optical, podiatry, chiropractic, audiology, acupuncture, speech therapy—even incontinence washes and creams.

As California finances bounced back, the state restored dental benefits in 2013 and acupuncture in 2016.

This year advocates are pushing to restore the rest of the lost coverage, with a particular push for eyeglasses.

…“These are critical benefits that people are going without,” said Linda Nguy, policy advocate for the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “For nearly ten years people have done without, and that’s a long time.”