AOA’s Congressional Advocacy Conference

5 reasons why you should attend AOA’s Congressional Advocacy Conference

The larger the contingent of ODs visiting Capitol Hill, the greater the impact the profession can have.

It's time to make your voice heard with lawmakers on Capitol Hill: Registration has opened for the AOA's 2015 Congressional Advocacy Conference in Washington.

Hundreds of optometrists and students from across the country will convene in the nation's capital April 12-14 to educate members of Congress on optometry's top priorities.

Here are five important reasons to register for this year's conference:

1. Build support for AOA-backed NHSC legislation
One of the AOA's top priorities is to build support for newly introduced legislation (H.R. 1312) that would reinstate ODs into the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). This would give ODs the opportunity "to serve an underserved population while competing for debt forgiveness," says Roger Jordan, O.D., chair of the AOA's Federal Relations Committee.  

2. Protect ODs' physician status in Medicare
Doctors and students will make a strong push on Capitol Hill for a long-term solution to Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula (SGR). AOA experts anticipate Congress may enact a permanent solution to the SGR problem this year. Having sought and won safeguards to optometry's physician status in previous SGR reform bills, the AOA will continue to push for full OD physician recognition in any and all Medicare reforms.    

3. Stop anti-optometry bills
Such legislation includes an effort to repeal the AOA-backed provider nondiscrimination law. Another bill the AOA has opposed would give the federal government new powers to single out ODs and other health professionals and assert greater control over critical aspects of how ODs can practice and provide care for patients. The advocacy conference is an important time for AOA members to take steps to prevent these types of bills from advancing.  

4. Make your voice heard on key eye health and aging issues
In advance of the White House Conference on Aging, to be held this December, the AOA and AARP will co-host a special session in which panelists will inform federal agency officials and others on the importance of eye exams and follow-up care for Medicare patients. These patients often have undiagnosed and untreated eye or vision problems, leading to issues such as preventable falls.

5. Visit with your representatives
Want to make a difference on Medicare payment reform? Fight for inclusion in NHSC programs? Take a stance against anti-optometry bills? Join the hundreds of ODs and students on Capitol Hill to fight for patients and the profession. The larger the contingent of ODs visiting Capitol Hill, "the greater the impact that we all can have on Medicare payment reform and other issues critical to our patients, our practices, and our profession," Dr. Jordan says.

The 2015 Congressional Advocacy Conference will take place in Washington, D.C., April 12-14. 

March 6, 2015

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