AOA-Backed Medicaid, NHSC Improvement Bills Introduced; ODs Encouraged to Contact Elected Officials for Support
AOA doctor and student advocates helped secure record levels of support for optometry-specific legislation in the last Congress. Thanks to their efforts, the National Health Service Corps Improvement Act (HR 920) and the Optometric Equity in Medicaid Act (HR 855) have been introduced into the new 113th Congress with broad bipartisan support.
Sponsored by Reps. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), the AOA-backed National Health Service Corps Improvement Act (HR 920) aims to bring doctors of optometry into more underserved urban and rural communities by ending the misguided exclusion of optometrists from the NHSC student loan repayment and scholarship programs. Reps. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) have joined as original co-sponsors.
Sponsored by Reps. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the AOA-backed Optometric Equity in Medicaid Act (HR 855) seeks to avert a potential crisis in access to primary eye care for Medicaid patients by amending the federal Medicaid statute to fully recognize optometrists.
Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Wash.), David Cicilline (D-RI), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), William Keating (D-Mass.), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Lee Terry (R-Neb.), and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) have joined as original co-sponsors.
The AOA Advocacy Group works with legislators to produce quality legislation to advance eye care in the United States. At the same time, AOA works to defeat legislation harmful to optometrists and their patients.
While AOA works hard to advance the interests of optometrists, it is important that all members get involved in the legislative process. AOA has developed several ways to make sure that your voice is heard by your representatives on the key points listed above.
Do you know your representative(s)? Personal involvement in the political and legislative process is among the most important contributions AOA members can make to the profession. The AOA Keyperson Network, now over 700 members strong, serves as an important element of AOA's legislative strategy. Keypersons are volunteers who have an existing relationship with a legislator or are willing to forge a new relationship. To become a member of the AOA Keyperson Network, contact the AOA at 1-800-365-2219.