Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Nonprofit to provide vision assistance for children

| January 22, 2023 12:00 AM

A newly-formed nonprofit organization, Mountain Health Gives, in October received a $750,000 gift from a remainder account of a class action lawsuit. The gift was directed to Mountain Health Gives by trial attorney and former Montana State Auditor John Morrison.

The first program of Mountain Health Gives will provide vision screenings, eye exams,

and glasses free-of-charge to children in the region. The program is called Little Peeps and is set to launch this year.

According to the American Optometric Association, one in four school-aged children have a vision problem that, if left untreated, will affect their learning and personal development.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, it is estimated that only 51% of

kids who are covered by employer insurance plans have an eye exam and glasses benefit and

that more than 52,000 children in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming aren’t covered by a health

insurance plan at all.

Fortunately, early detection and corrective measures can help prevent eye problems

from creating long-term issues for children, giving them the opportunity to achieve better

academically and keep pace with their peers.

“I’m glad to have the opportunity to direct this gift to Mountain Health Gives for their

Little Peeps program,” Morrison said. “Children’s health has been a focus of our giving for a

long time and I’m excited that this program will better the lives of kids in our region for years to


It is estimated that the gift directed by Morrison will enable the organization to provide

more than 3,000 vision exams and nearly 800 pairs of glasses annually over the course of seven years to children in need, once the program is up and running.

The class action that produced the funds, Butler v. Unified Life Insurance Company,

began as an individual claim by a Sidney truck driver against a short-term medical insurance

company for payment of bills related to cancer treatment. Based on facts discovered during the

litigation, a national class action was certified to recover system-wide underpayments, and a summary judgment was entered in favor of the class.