The AOA is committed to supporting and serving members during this urgent crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This page provides a list of aid resources and information to help doctors of optometry find critical financial relief and business support. Resources specifically for optometry students and recent grads will be coming soon.
U.S. Small Business Administration and Treasury announce loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less
The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. This action is meant to help streamline the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to America’s smallest businesses while also ensuring sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
Find more intructions on how to complete the simpler loan forgiveness form and to view the Interim Final Rule on the simpler forgiveness process.
Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting requirements: What doctors Of optometry need to know
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the PPP, and Health Care Enhancement Act appropriated funds to reimburse eligible healthcare providers for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the coronavirus. These funds were distributed through the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund (PRF) program. All recipients of PRF payments are required to comply with certain reporting requirements issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Since the initiation of this funding, the AOA has recommended that doctors of optometry keep track of their spending and document anything they pay for using Provider Relief Funds. Learn more requirement information for the PRF program.
As we approach the end of the year, we want to ensure that all doctors of optometry that are required to participate in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Merit Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) have the information they need to avoid penalties and protect their reimbursement in 2022.
All doctors should be aware that a MIPS exclusion is available for those whose practices have been impacted by COVID-19. The AOA anticipates many practices will choose to seek this exclusion in 2020.
Take these steps today:
- Confirm if you are required to submit MIPS data for 2020. Use the CMS NPI lookup tool. Remember, if the checked box is marked only for group reporting but not individual reporting, you are not required to report as a group. This decision is for you and your colleagues to make.
- If you are required to report MIPS data, know the exclusions. Exemptions exist for practices impacted by COVID-19. Review the application and submit by Dec. 31, 2020.
- If you do not want to claim the COVID-19 exemption and you are required to participate in MIPS, you will be required to submit data to CMS by March 31, 2021. Review the AOA’s MIPS Guidebook.
AOA MORE and EHR vendor updates:
- For members using Crystal Practice Management and MaximEyes, data should be available on your dashboard the week of Nov. 2. For members using Compulink, data should be available on your dashboard the week of Nov. 9.
- No data from any additional EHR vendors is expected.
- If choosing to report despite the exemptions, you should also explore other quality reporting options for 2020. AOA MORE can still assist in the completion of Improvement Activities.
Questions? Contact Kara Webb.
Information about the COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments
Details about your Economic Impact Payment are now available through the IRS Information Center. For most taxpayers, payments are automatic and no further action is needed. This includes taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019, and most seniors and retirees.
- You can qualify for a payment if your income is under a certain level and you cannot be claimed by another individual as a dependent.
- If you didn't file federal taxes in 2019 and did not plan to, you may need to provide additional information to the IRS in order to receive your stimulus check. Access the application information.
- You can check the status of your stimulus payment.
AOA's COVID-19 response offers immediate crisis relief, recovery assistance
The AOA understands the unique economic challenges facing the profession, which is why the AOA Board of Trustees developed a comprehensive, $5.5 million crisis relief and recovery assistance package.
In summary, the plan includes:
- Immediate AOA dues relief—All AOA dues are waived for two months for all members.
- Dues and assessment freeze—AOA membership dues and assessment to be maintained at current levels at least through 2021.
- Direct program reprioritization—The AOA is dedicating an organization-wide response to the immediate crisis-related concerns of doctors and affiliates, extending all AOA advocacy activities (federal, state, payer and media), communications, AOAExcel ®, practice tools and more.
- Direct affiliate support—The AOA established a $500,000 fund to assist distressed affiliates.
- Long-term relief for doctors—The AOA is working to establish an AOA Foundation Optometry Recovery Fund to aid optometry practices, in partnership with industry friends.
Additional details regarding the relief plan will be communicated in the coming weeks and we will continue to update this page as more information becomes available. If you have any questions or wish to speak to someone directly, please contact Kara Webb, AOA's director of coding and regulatory policy.
The AOA and state associations are working to ensure doctors of optometry will be included among initial COVID-19 vaccinations to health care workers, preserving Americans’ access to eye care.
Integral to making the AOA the force for optometry it is today, Brauns is praised by volunteers and staff for her leadership, professionalism and dedication. The AOA remains positioned to continue powerful advocacy for optometry.
Early detection and treatment can reduce risk of blindness by 95%, yet a third of people with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy. More can be done, and that’s where upstream, integrated, value-based medicine aligns doctors and plans for the benefit of their patients.