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Federal Advocacy

Optometry is a legislated profession. The decisions made by state and federal lawmakers and agency officials have a direct, and often long-lasting, impact on doctors of optometry and patients.

U.S. Capitol Building

The rules set forth in federal and state laws and regulations have a significant impact on how doctors of optometry can practice and provide care for patients.

Lawmakers and agency officials play a key role in determining what care is within optometry’s scope of practice, how patients are able to access needed eye and vision care, and how doctors are reimbursed.

Defending the rights of doctors of optometry to practice full-scope optometry is one of the most important roles of the American Optometric Association. The volunteers and staff of the AOA Advocacy Group are dedicated to fighting and winning in Washington, D.C. and state capital across the country on behalf of doctors of optometry and patients.

AOA Fighting for Doctor-Patient Priorities in Medicare Expansion 

With the President’s support, Congress continues to consider expanding Medicare eligibility and boosting traditional (non-Medicare Advantage) coverage to include dental, hearing and vision. One key vision care expansion proposal that is receiving attention in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives would add a refraction and materials benefit for all traditional Medicare beneficiaries, though many details of how it would be structured and implemented are still being debated across Capitol Hill.  

The AOA, through Federal Keyperson doctors and its Washington, D.C., advocacy team, is actively involved in these discussions. It is providing specific policy recommendations focused on optometry’s essential role in meeting the needs of Medicare patients and the importance of the doctor-patient relationship in delivering healthy outcomes.   

At the same time, without concern for the impact on Medicare patients or physicians, some insurers and other payers are trying to gain control of any new benefit, including by shaping the legislation to impose enforced restrictions on the professional judgment and authority of doctors and to strictly segment vision from overall patient health. The AOA is fighting back and ensuring that doctors of optometry are heard loud and clear whenever and wherever Medicare’s future is being decided. 

With this year’s virtual edition of AOA on Capitol Hill May 23-25, concerned doctors and students can join the mobilization for Medicare expansion fairness and help lock in additional support for optometry from their U.S. Senators and House members. For sign-up information or an up-to-the-minute legislative update, please contact the AOA Washington Office (mwillette@aoa.org) or click here.

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