Advocacy Updates

The American Optometric Association Advocacy Group publishes weekly updates and information about the most important topics that directly affect our members and their practices. 

September 26, 2014:

AOA backs bill offering shorter EHR reporting period

Proposed legislation backed by the AOA would offer a shorter, more flexible reporting period for providers seeking to comply with the federal government's Meaningful Use (MU) program.

September 19, 2014:

AOA weighs in on future contact lens guidance

Microbial eye infections among contact lens wearers are on the rise in the United States and other countries.  To respond to this problem, the AOA has been working with the federal government and other eye care organizations to update guidance on contact lenses as medical devices and the testing of contact lens disinfection systems.

September 12, 2014:

AOA members have new opportunity to provide care to veterans

Health Net Federal Services, LLC (HNFS) is now recruiting highly qualified optometrists to join its Patient-Centered Community Care (PCCC) network of civilian providers.

September 5, 2014:

EHR rule provides flexibility, but doesn't go far enough

Revised Medicare regulations fail to adequately address the AOA's longtime request for more flexibility in electronic health record (EHR) programs. The AOA states the changes don't go far enough to assist most users of certified EHRs.

August 29, 2014:

DEA change means some ODs will lose power to prescribe hydrocodone combo products 

A more restrictive policy for hydrocodone combination products goes into effect Oct. 6. This gives ODs a new reason to advocate for their ability to prescribe these drugs in their respective states.

August 22, 2014:

Union changes policy to include ODs for medical services

A local union in Georgia has reversed its policy of non-payment to optometrists for medical services. AOA leaders say this victory comes thanks to a law the AOA has fought to enact and protect: the Harkin nondiscrimination provision.

August 15, 2014:

New data reflects achievements of pediatric vision benefit

The AOA's efforts to guarantee comprehensive pediatric eye health and vision care under the Affordable Care Act are paying off for millions of American kids.

August 8, 2014:

Advancing optometry's priorities during August recess

With Congress in recess in August, the AOA is urging federal advocacy leaders to connect with lawmakers back home to help advance optometry's priorities.  The AOA sent a grassroots "action pack" memo to more than 500 ODs with close ties to Senate and House members on Aug. 5.

August 1, 2014:

AOA president stands up for ODs and patients at Senate hearing

AOA President David A. Cockrell, O.D., voiced the concerns of optometrists and their patients at a contentious U.S. Senate hearing on July 30.  The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights subcommittee convened on Capitol Hill to hear complaints by an online contact lens seller about competition and pricing policies of manufacturers.

July 25, 2014:

Michigan ODs score win on prescribing law

Purchasing contact lenses and eyeglasses in the state of Michigan now requires a prescription from a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist.   Optometry achieved this win in early July when Gov. Rick Snyder signed the Eye Care Consumer Protection Act into law.

July 18, 2014:

Online contact lens reordering program concerns ODs

AOA members have concerns that an online process VSP Vision Care uses to reorder contact lenses could potentially undermine the doctor-patient relationship.
"In the past, many VSP patients chose to order lenses through a VSP doctor and apply their VSP benefits to that order," says AOA Vice President Andrea P. Thau, O.D. Recently, patients have been hearing about a program for ordering lenses through an online portal known as Eyeconic through the vision plan's newsletters and emails.

July 11, 2014:

ODs: Prepare now for Open Payments data

New guidance issued by the AOA's Federal Relations Committee outlines the steps ODs should take now to prepare for the Open Payments program.  The program requires that certain manufacturers and others report any payments or gifts provided to ODs and other physicians.

June 27, 2014:

Louisiana Gov. Jindal signs expanded scope of practice bill

Optometry has scored another scope of practice win-this time in the state of Louisiana.  On June 1, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) signed a bill into law that adds certain eye care procedures to the list of minor surgeries ODs already provide in Louisiana.  

June 20, 2014:

AOA warns public about online eye exams

The AOA is warning consumers about possible risks associated with online refractive eye exams.  Such online sites tout convenience. But any alleged advantages come with risks, the AOA cautions. In a statement, AOA President Mitchell T. Munson, O.D., says the association has received an increasing number of questions about the safety and validity of this type of online test.

June 13, 2014:

AOA Advocates Boost Priority Bills, Though More Action Needed to Maintain Momentum

More than 300 AOA doctors and students took time away from their patients, practices, and families to travel to Washington, D.C. April 27-29 to focus the national spotlight on the profession through visits to the offices of every U.S. senator and House member and by playing key roles in a series of briefings and forums held around the nation's capital. 

June 6, 2014:

HHS Announces $300 Million to Add or Expand Optometry and other Services at Nation's Community Health Centers

Following years of direct AOA outreach to top federal agency officials and key members of Congress regarding the need to better ensure access to optometry-provided primary eye and vision care in America's community health centers (CHCs), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Tuesday the availability of up to $300 million in new funding to help existing CHCs expand hours, hire more providers, and establish additional services, including oral health, behavioral health, pharmacy, and vision services.