Join AOA’s Congressional conference to fight for a Medicare pay fix

Join AOA’s Congressional conference to fight for a Medicare pay fix

There's a serious chance Congress will enact a permanent fix to Medicare's payment formula this year.

"The AOA has and will continue to make it clear to Congress and others that our full physician status in Medicare is non-negotiable."

The April 1 Medicare pay cut deadline is a first test for lawmakers. Should Congress fail to enact longer-term reform, the AOA plans to make this issue a top priority at its 2015 Congressional Advocacy Conference in April.

Congress has approved numerous temporary "fixes" over the years to prevent Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula (SGR) from automatically reducing payments to physicians. A one-year fix backed by the AOA and signed into law by President Obama last year is set to expire on April 1, meaning that ODs and other physicians face a roughly 21 percent Medicare pay cut should lawmakers fail to act. 

While some in Congress are already preparing for another temporary patch to avert the pay cut and buy negotiators more time, lawmakers at a recent hearing on Capitol Hill stressed the importance of making longer-term reform a reality.

"This is an historic opportunity," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "Securing a permanent solution to the SGR is more than tinkering with how we pay doctors who treat Medicare patients. This can also be Medicare reform."

AOA doctors and students should make an especially strong push on Capitol Hill to seek SGR repeal and positive reform during this critical time.

Make your voice known on Capitol Hill
Roger Jordan, O.D., who chairs the AOA Federal Relations Committee, is encouraging AOA members to attend the conference and personally visit with their representatives to fight for optometry's top priorities.

OD and student advocacy pays off: On three separate occasions, AOA has secured significant changes to three different advancing SGR reform drafts that were successfully changed to safeguard optometry's physician recognition, thanks to the advocacy of the AOA Board of Trustees and the network of AOA Keypersons across the country. This remains a major objective in 2015, Dr. Jordan says.

"The AOA has made and will continue to make it clear to Congress that our full physician status in Medicare is non-negotiable, and that ODs must continue to be fully-recognized partners in developing and participating in the program's physician-level initiatives," he says.

"Even in the face of our successful efforts, we continue to see medical lobbying groups and others who want to put their own narrow agenda ahead of what's right for patients by desperately trying to define and exclude us," Jordan adds.

"That's why it's extremely important that hundreds of AOA OD and student advocates make the trip to Washington, D.C., to be on Capitol Hill when Congress is likely considering its plan to repeal and replace Medicare's broken payment formula," Dr. Jordan says.

The 2015 Congressional Advocacy Conference will take place in Washington, D.C. on April 12-14. For more information, visit aoa.org.

February 3, 2015

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