Leading practice groups join AOA’s advocacy roundtable and commit to optometry’s advancement through policy advocacy

January 5, 2022
New effort seeks to build on 2020-21 AOA and affiliate gains to deliver more for doctors and patients.

January 5, 2022 – The American Optometric Association (AOA) will convene a new forum for policy discussion and research starting in 2022 aimed at supporting an immediate expansion of the 124-year-old professional association’s proactive advocacy on behalf of its member doctors and the patients they serve. To be chaired by Robert C. Layman, O.D., 100th president of the AOA, and with leadership from other members of the Board of Trustees, the AOA Advocacy Roundtable’s founding participants include representatives from EyeCare Partners, Keplr Vision, MyEyeDr. and AOAExcel®, organizations that have increased their support for the profession at a crucial time.

“The AOA Advocacy Roundtable will help us do even more to secure optometry’s essential and expanding role in health care and seize new opportunities in the federal and state policy arenas,” said Dr. Layman. “I’m proud to recognize EyeCare Partners, Keplr Vision, MyEyeDr. and AOAExcel as founding participants and for demonstrating their strong support for the AOA and optometry’s future.”

Together with state optometric associations and armed forces and student affiliates, the AOA advocates for doctors of optometry and serves the profession in meeting the health and vision care needs of the public. From safeguarding optometry’s independence and hard-won physician role; to supporting state practice act modernization through its 10-year, $10 million Future Practice Initiative commitment; to gaining full eligibility for the government’s 2020 and 2021 pandemic-response grants and forgivable loans for doctors—totaling $2.3 billion—the AOA works 24/7 to advance optometry and deliver powerful policy-arena results for its members.

Current AOA-backed, bi-partisan legislation gaining support in the U.S. Congress would ban anti-doctor abuses by vision discount plans and internet contact lens seller “robo-calling” of doctor offices. The AOA also is working to avert a looming Medicare-wide fee cut and to ensure that the full range of optometric care is recognized by federal health agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs health system. Over the past decade, including once again in 2021, the AOA has won recognition in Capitol Hill insider rankings as a top national advocacy organization.

“Part of our mission at EyeCare Partners is to advance eyecare by advocating for the eyecare field and continuing to look for new ways to deliver enhanced experiences, better outcomes and robust education for our patients and staff,” James Wachter, O.D., chief professional officer at EyeCare Partners, said. “We look forward to joining AOA’s effort and partnering with fellow leaders in eyecare.”

“Keplr Vision strongly supports the AOA’s efforts to expand optometry’s role in health care. We feel initiatives like this are critical to fulfilling that goal,” said Nick Williams, Keplr Vision chief executive officer.

“Keplr Vision stands firmly with the AOA and state associations in the fight for optometry’s future, and that will position our active involvement in the Advocacy Roundtable,” said David Cockrell, O.D., Keplr Vision’s advocacy director. “Our organization welcomes the opportunity to do more in the advocacy battles that will define the profession and deliver new opportunities to doctors.”

“As part of our continued focus in growing and protecting the profession and educating patients and the general public, MyEyeDr. is proud to be partnering with the AOA on various initiatives including developing custom learning and training programs for our technicians and increasing membership through our associated doctors,” said Artis Beatty, O.D., MyEyeDr. chief medical officer. “Advocacy is extremely important to us and working with the AOA and now as part of this roundtable is essential for continued building of the profession.”

“Supporting AOA and state association advocacy is another important way AOAExcel helps doctors of optometry, optometry practices and our profession,” said Samuel D. Pierce, O.D., chair of AOAExcel. “Whenever an AOA member uses AOAExcel to enrich their personal or professional lives, they’re also supporting the AOA mission of advocating for our patients and the profession.”

Starting in January, there will be monthly roundtable meetings, which will include briefings by AOA advocacy volunteers and staff and updates on major AOA initiatives addressing health and discount vision plan abuses, supporting practice success, helping families gain access to essential eye health and care, cracking down on shortcuts around the standard of care and informing the media and the public about the expanding health care role of doctors of optometry. Participation is open to organizations supporting the advancing practice of optometry and the public policy mission of the AOA, including corporations, funds or limited partnerships with an ownership stake in an individual practice or group of practices.

“For our profession’s continued advancement and for beneficial policies to be enacted and take firm hold, optometry must be the one that is leading and setting the policy agenda both in our state capitals and in Washington, D.C.,” said James P. DeVleming, O.D., AOA president-elect. “The fact is that anti-optometry interests are more active, more coordinated and better funded than ever before. This means we must be ready, willing and able to do even more in the public policy arena to protect patient access to our high-value care, and that’s exactly the focus I expect from the AOA Advocacy Roundtable.”

For more information, contact Adrianne Drollette, adrollette@aoa.org.

About the AOA

The American Optometric Association (AOA) is the leading authority on and advocate for quality eye health care, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and optometric professionals. As the sole primary eye care provider in many communities across America, doctors of optometry are often a patient's first entry point into the health care system, and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat, and manage disorders, diseases, and injuries that affect the eye and visual system. Through a nationwide public health initiative, AOA's Eye Deserve More campaign is fostering awareness of the importance of eye health and vision care and the overall health benefits of in-person, comprehensive eye examinations with AOA doctors of optometry for all Americans.

About EyeCare Partners

EyeCare Partners is the nation’s leading provider of clinically integrated eye care. Our national network of ophthalmologists and optometrists provide a lifetime of care to our patients with a mission to enhance vision, advance eye care, and improve lives. ECP’s network of doctors is comprised of more than 300 ophthalmologists and 700 optometrists. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, ECP-affiliated practices provide care in 18 states and 80 markets, providing services that span the eye care continuum. For more information, visit eyecare-partners.com.

About Keplr Vision

Keplr Vision is built around it’s Four Pillars of Success: Patient-Centric Operations, Consensus driven decision making, Optometric thought leadership and Legacy strengthening Partnerships. We are focused on expanding independent optometric practice and advocacy efforts to increase the scope of practice for Optometry across the country. We offer ODs a collaborative partnership of robust business support services and supply chain management.  

About MyEyeDr.

MyEyeDr. is a premier vision health and wellness provider with over 800 practice locations across 27 states and the District of Columbia. Founded in 2001 in the Washington, D.C. area, MyEyeDr. prides itself on its doctor-centric model that prioritizes patient care driven through full-scope optometry and a world-class patient experience. The company’s practices offer patients personalized and advanced eye health services including an extensive selection of prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses, as well as specialty and subspecialty care to meet each patient’s unique vision, health, and wellness needs.

About AOAExcel

AOAExcel (aoa.org/AOAExcel) is a member-benefit of the American Optometric Association that helps doctors of optometry practice smarter and more efficiently in both their personal and professional lives with AOAExcel’s proven tools of success. AOAExcel offers a myriad of products and services through their endorsed business partners, including a career center job board exclusively for optometrists, malpractice and other business insurance, vendor discounts, retirement planning, life/disability insurance, student loan refinancing, merchant processing, and HIPAA compliance among others. 

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