AOA leaders on Capitol Hill press for optometry’s priorities
(Shown from left to right: Trustee Samuel Pierce, O.D., Trustee William Reynolds, O.D., Trustee Robert Layman, O.D., Secretary-Treasurer Andrea Thau, O.D, Vice President Steven Loomis, O.D., President-Elect David Cockrell, O.D., Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), President Mitchell Munson, O.D., Immediate Past President Ronald Hopping, O.D., MPH, Trustee Barbara Horn, O.D., Trustee Christopher Quinn, O.D., and Trustee Greg Caldwell, O.D.)
The AOA is determined that optometry maintains its rightful seat at the table when health care policy decisions are being made.
The federal government may be shut down, but that didn't stop the AOA Board of Trustees from making optometry's voice heard on Capitol Hill. The board met with pro-optometry leaders in Congress on October 10th for a series of private meetings.
AOA President Mitchell T. Munson, O.D., led the sessions focused on two main goals:
- Building new support for AOA-backed bills before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to expand patient access to essential eye health care services
- Providing optometry's perspective on Congress's health care policy priorities, including the need to fix the broken Medicare physician payment system.
"The AOA is determined to ensure that optometry maintains its rightful seat at the table when health care policy decisions are being made in Washington, D.C.," Dr. Munson said. "By holding a special Board of Trustees meeting in the Capitol, we were able to bring lawmakers to our table to discuss the most pressing concerns of ODs and optometry students nationwide. It was a productive and meaningful day for our profession, and it points to the need for our AOA to continue to make winning advocacy—in the federal, state and third-party arenas—our highest priority."
The AOA Board of Trustees met with the following pro-optometry leaders:
- Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Majority Leader
- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), House Republican Conference chair/lead sponsor of the National Health Service Corps Improvement Act (H.R. 920)
- Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Assistant Minority Leader
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), lead sponsor of the Optometric Equity in Medicaid Act (H.R. 855)
- Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)
- Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.)
- Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), leading opponent of the anti-optometry "Bucshon-Sullivan Bill" (H.R. 1427)
- Senator John Boozman, OD (R-Ark.), Lead Sponsor of the National Health Service Corps Improvement Act (S. 1445)
The AOA Board periodically holds meetings in the U.S. Capitol to emphasize to lawmakers the organization's strong commitment to advocacy. Their efforts are building on the success of last month's AOA Congressional Advocacy Conference, which brought more than 600 concerned ODs and optometry students to Capitol Hill for meetings with Members of Congress from every state.
Always an active and visible presence through its Washington Office, the AOA will return in force to Capitol Hill at its next Congressional Advocacy Conference, open to all AOA doctors and students, April 28-30, 2014. The AOA was recognized last year as one of the most respected and effective lobbying groups in Washington, according to a survey of Washington, DC insiders, policy experts and association leaders.
AOA doctors and students can help educate their elected officials in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives about optometry and AOA-backed legislation by visiting the AOA's Online Legislative Action Center on www.aoa.org. For more information about AOA-PAC, the AOA Federal Keyperson Program, the 2014 Congressional Advocacy Conference or other advocacy programs, contact the Jon Hymes, AOA Washington Office Director, at 1-800-365-2219.