AOA President Munson and AOA Board Lead Profession’s Effort to Overcome DC Gridlock

Click here to view a 99 second video on the Historic AOA SUPER ADVOCACY CONFERENCE 2013, and for information on attending next year's meeting.

Although there's been little agreement on anything in the nation's capital in recent weeks, the AOA's recent advocacy efforts - leading up to and since the partial shutdown of the federal government - have helped secure new bipartisan backing on Capitol Hill for full recognition of optometry in key federal health programs.  

As a result of the AOA Super Advocacy Conference in September and this month's AOA Board of Trustees meeting on Capitol Hill led by AOA President Mitchell T. Munson, OD, dozens of new Republican and Democratic co-sponsors have been added to optometry-specific bills before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and organized medicine's attack agenda continues to be blunted.

Inside the Capitol, the number of co-sponsors attached to a particular bill is viewed as a key indicator of the level of support behind it. Members of Congress are frequently asked to sponsor and co-sponsor legislative proposals, but typically do so only when they are informed directly about the need for or urgency behind it.

Fall 2013 Report Card on AOA-backed bills before Congress:

H.R. 920 / S. 1445, The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Improvement Act - bipartisan legislation to end the exclusion of Doctors of Optometry from the NHSC (a federal initiative that connects primary care providers to underserved communities).

  • HR 920 co-sponsors added in September and October - 55
  • HR 920 total co-sponsors - 96
  • S. 1445 co-sponsors added in September and October -  4
  • S. 1445 total co-sponsors - 4

H.R. 855, The Optometric Equity in Medicaid Act - bipartisan legislation to fully recognize Doctors of Optometry as providers of medical and other health services in Medicaid.

  • HR 855 so-sponsors added in September and October - 40
  • HR 855 total co-sponsors - 81

Fall 2013 Report Card on Anti-Optometry bills before Congress:

H.R. 1427, "The Bucshon-Sullivan Bill" - authored by an MD in Congress, it's an updated version of organized medicine's plan to give federal agencies the authority to undermine the full recognition of Doctors of Optometry as doctors and physicians.

  • HR 1427 co-sponsors added in September and October - 1
  • HR 1427 total co-sponsors - 16

H.R. 2817, "The Harris Bill" - authored by another MD in Congress, it would repeal the Harkin Law, the new federal ban on discrimination by health plans against Doctors of Optometry on the basis of licensure.

  • HR 2817 co-sponsors added in September and October - 0
  • HR 2817 total co-sponsors - 0

AOA leaders are ensuring that Optometry is being heard loud and clear by federal lawmakers right now, but there remains a great deal of work yet to be done with the current Congress, which continues through 2014. Even more co-sponsors are needed before AOA-backed legislation will be considered a top priority by Congressional leaders.  

Every AOA doctor and student can help educate their representatives on Capitol Hill about optometry and its federal priorities by joining the Federal Keyperson program, investing in AOA-PAC, downloading the new AOA Advocacy smartphone app for Apple or Android, and by using the Legislative Action Center.    

For more information, including on where a particular U.S. Senator or House member stands on the AOA's priorities, contact Jon Hymes, AOA Washington Office Director by calling 1-800-365-2219 or by email at jfhymes@aoa.org.