Get answers to your questions on ACA implementation

As the Affordable Care Act reaches an important milestone date, the AOA's Third Party Center (TPC) will update members on what changes are afoot in ACA implementation—and what they should prepare for—in a webinar.

"ACA Implementation—The First 100 Days—Implications for ODs," is scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern time on April 16. AOA members can register online.

It will provide the latest information on issues the AOA has been working on since last September's combined Super Advocacy Meeting in Washington, D.C., including:

  • Narrow provider networks,
  • The current status of the Harkin law and how it can be enforced, and
  • What health and vision plans are doing in response to ACA implementation.

The event follows up on a webinar the TPC hosted in December 2013, which attracted 400 members and discussed ACA implementation and coverage expansion opportunities for ODs.

"This presentation is an opportunity to report to our member doctors about what is occurring under a very complex and controversial new law," says AOA President Mitchell T. Munson, O.D. "We'll also ask for reports from states on how implementation of the Harkin Law and mandatory eye health coverage for children is proceeding and discuss strategies to overcome opposition from the groups that have fought us on these issues every step of the way."

The Harkin law is a powerful tool for ODs to leverage in the health care delivery system, says Stephen Montaquila, O.D., chair of the TPC's Executive Committee. Dr. Montaquila will co-moderate the upcoming webinar with Lendy Pridgen, the TPC's director.

"We all need to be mindful of the protections afforded under the Harkin law and where it may apply to help stop discrimination against the profession and the patients who we care for," Dr. Montaquila says.

Narrow networks remain a concern

The webinar will focus on key concerns for ODs. For example, under the ACA, ODs have also faced the possibility of getting shut out of narrow networks. Insurers have been looking to tighten networks in an effort to better manage costs and offer more competitive plans.

"We are not seeing narrow networks in large numbers yet, but there are concerns that narrowing of payer networks could create disruption in continuity of patient care and decrease patient access to optometrists," Dr. Montaquila says.

It's also too soon to tell how the pediatric optometric care benefit, another significant ACA provision for ODs, will manifest in the practice environment.

As more patients apply for insurance in the state or federal health insurance exchanges, ODs "will undoubtedly have more work on our plates as providers help patients take advantage of these benefits."

Most important, ODs need to know which patients have access to the pediatric exam benefit, what is covered, and how they can help patients get the eye health and vision care services that they need, he says. The webinar will cover these key logistics.

April 10, 2014

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