The AOA Health Policy Institute (HPI) is the thought leader in public policy research and analysis focused on eye health and vision care.
With its expertise, the AOA HPI develops creative, innovative and educational resources and tools to inform policymakers, health care professionals, patients and the public. From data and other evidence, the AOA HPI illuminates the best policies for efficient access to and delivery of high-quality comprehensive eye health and vision care.
$1 Billion one-time funding opportunity to health centers uniquely intersects vision services and local optometry clinics.
The Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) will provide $1 billion to an estimated 1,376 health centers through a formula of $500,000 base amount, plus $11 per patient, as reported in 2019 UDS. The AOA Health Policy Institute (HPI) has been tracking the number of eye examinations by eye doctors at health centers. These 2019 figures are now published, showing that eye examinations at health centers surpassed +1 million annually, representing a +180.3% increase in health center eye examinations from 2014. This increase has many health centers looking for ways to expand vision services, but many have been constrained by a lack of available space. These new American Rescue Plan funds allow construction or expansion of an existing facility (adding square footage) and/or alteration or renovation of the existing facility and loose, moveable (non-fixed to building, e.g., chair and stand, slit lamp, BIO, OCT, etc.) ophthalmic equipment needed to provide clinic services. Optometry offices should consider reaching out to local health centers and their state primary care associations to help increase vision services through these new funds that can be combined with a model staffing agreement from their offices. This can be a win-win for health centers, optometry offices and the populations receiving expanded vision services, but such plans must be shared with HRSA by June 24, 2021.
Although Congressional action staved off an immediate 2% cut to providers’ Medicare payments this year, attention now shifts to additional cuts mandated by federal spending controls.
Even as doctors of optometry receive the much-needed funds, the AOA remains committed to advocating for optometry’s inclusion in federal crisis measures. Reminder: the deadline to apply for relief has been extended to May 31.
May 31 is the new application deadline for first- and second-draw PPP loans, with the AOA requesting clarity on whether HHS Provider Relief Funds should be included in gross receipts for assessing eligibility.