Register now for AOA’s Congressional Advocacy Conference
Join colleagues in the nation's capital to fight on behalf of patients and the profession.
AOA's Congressional Advocacy Conference, April 17-19, in Washington, D.C., convenes advocacy leaders and students not only to help advance optometry's legislative priorities, but also to take those concerns directly to lawmakers.
At last year's conference, more than 500 AOA-member doctors and students met with legislators about Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula just hours before its repeal, and the session's special summit on aging helped influence the White House Conference on Aging.
Building on that momentum, this year's conference seeks to garner even more support for AOA-backed legislation, as well as address the profession's other top priorities, including cracking down on unscrupulous Internet contact lens sellers and ensuring that telehealth, as well as so-called online "vision tests," are not used as a replacement for in-person, comprehensive eye exams.
Build support for AOA-backed legislation
The conference fully prepares attendees to build support for AOA-backed legislation, including three bills that hold great promise for the profession.
The Dental and Optometric Care Access Act (H.R. 3323) is pro-access, pro-patient and pro-competition legislation aimed at leveling the playing field for patients and their doctors by targeting some of the most offensive health and vision plan practices. Bipartisan support in Congress continues to grow, but more must be done to ensure that it remains a priority.
Likewise, a continued push for H.R. 1312 and S. 898, legislation to reinstate doctors of optometry into the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), is necessary to give doctors the opportunity to serve an underserved population while competing for debt forgiveness.
The AOA also continues to build support for H.R. 1688, an AOA-backed bill that would require the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs to add new residency slots for doctors of optometry. The new slots would be an increase of 10 percent over the next five years and is aimed at relieving wait times for veterans to access the eye and vision care that they need and deserve.
Fighting back against the inappropriate use of new technologies, unscrupulous online vendors
Contact lenses, though a regulated medical device, are a safe and effective vision correction option for nearly 40 million Americans. However, the U.S. Center for Disease Control has reported that keratitis, a painful and sight-threatening but preventable eye infection linked to improper contact lens use, causes nearly 1 million emergency room and urgent doctor visits annually and $170 million in added costs to the health care system.
Working closely with the AOA, leading members of Congress—including Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.)—are urging the Federal Trade Commission to launch a crackdown on Internet sellers who break the law and undermine contact lens patient safety. Conference attendees will be updating lawmakers on Capitol Hill about how unscrupulous Internet sellers threaten the eye health of patients, and will urge their support for stronger enforcement.
When used appropriately, telehealth services can offer new access points for those living in remote or underserved areas, help providers better communicate with patients and colleagues, and help doctors monitor patients with chronic diseases.
However, telehealth poses serious drawbacks when used inappropriately, including the potential for disrupting the doctor-patient relationship and putting patients at increased risk for delayed or missed diagnosis and care opportunities. This is especially true when telehealth is used as a replacement for in-person comprehensive eye exams provided by an eye doctor. Only a preventive and primary eye health and vision care intervention can diagnose and ensure treatment for the complete range of vision and eye health issues.
Currently, advocates for a much broader use of telehealth are urging lawmakers to support a sweeping expansion of telehealth under Medicare and Medicare Advantage. AOA advocates will be given the tools necessary to educate lawmakers that nothing replaces an in-person comprehensive dilated eye exam performed by an eye doctor.
Interested in attending?
What: AOA Congressional Advocacy Conference
When: April 17-19, 2016
Where: J.W. Marriott Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Click here to register for the conference.