As a result of optometry's successes throughout the national debate over the new health care law, the AOA has been officially recognized as one of the most respected and effective lobbying organization in Washington, DC. However, the battles over health care reform are continuing both in the nation's capital and in state capitals as the rules for the cornerstone of the law's expansion of health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans - the new state health insurance exchanges - are finalized.
Although the AOA helped pass the designation of pediatric vision care as essential and a federal ban on discrimination against ODs by health plans, including ERISA plans, organized medicine and insurers are now mobilizing to undo these and other patient access gains. Last month, after the Supreme Court upheld the new health care law - dubbed "the Affordable Care Act" - the AOA responded with a call to action webinar briefing for leaders of every state optometric association and a detailed plan for success in health care reform implementation.
Now, as part of its own public education effort and to directly respond to questions from patients and doctors, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has announced a series of interactive webinars on the Affordable Care Act. All webinars are open to the public. Participants can register using the web links provided below.
"Optometry must be heard as loudly and clearly by the federal and state officials who are implementing the new health care law as we were by the Senators and House members who wrote it," said Ron Hopping, O.D., AOA president. "I urge doctors and students to participate in the HHS forums, to speak out and to join AOA's advocacy for our profession."
August 28, 2:00 pm ET - The Health Care Law 101 (in Spanish) (https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/423360311)
September 13, 12:30 pm ET - The Health Care Law 101 (in English) (https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/245355535)
September 25 at 2:00 pm ET - The Health Care Law 101 (in Spanish) (https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/836086775)
Regional Health Care Law 101 Webinars
August 7, 2:00 pm ET - New Jersey and New York (HHS Region 2) (https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/727428559)
August 8, 11:00 am ET - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont (HHS Region 1) (https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/366672047)
August 8, 2:00 pm CT, 1:00 pm MT - Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas (HHS Region 6) (https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/675358335)
August 20, 2:00 pm ET - Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (HHS Region 2) (https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/718251375)
August 20, 3:00 pm CT, 4:00pm ET - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin (HHS Region 5) (https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/314078695)
Webinars will include a question and answer session during which participants can ask HHS staff any questions they may have about the health care law. Questions can be submitted at ACA101@hhs.gov.
For additional information on federal health care reform, see the AOA website health care reform page (www.aoa.org/x16106.xml).