AOA on Capitol Hill
This year, Optometry’s Meeting® hosts the AOA’s single-largest annual advocacy experience and a foundation of optometry’s federal advocacy efforts, AOA on Capitol Hill.
There has never been a more important time for doctors of optometry and optometry students to be on Capitol Hill than in 2023. Everything is changing in the nation’s capital with new leadership in Congress and potentially a new direction for health care in America. Very simply, if optometry does not speak out in force right now, the profession risks not being a factor in the debate over the future of the health care system.
Of course, with Optometry's Meeting® being held this June in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, we have exactly the opportunity we need to ensure that a record number of doctors and future doctors are taking the profession's message about quality care and expanded patient access directly to Congress.
To assist every state association with advance planning, use this information on AOA on Capitol Hill 2023, this year's Optometry's Meeting-connected edition of optometry’s largest and loudest annual advocacy gathering, as well as an overview of the AOA resources available to you.
AOA on Capitol Hill 2023 will be held throughout the week of Optometry's Meeting. Meetings on Capitol Hill with U.S. Senators and House members can be scheduled to be held as early as Wednesday, June 21, or later in the week through Friday, June 23, depending on the availability of the doctors and students who’ll be participating. As a key element of Optometry's Meeting registration process, the AOA will urge all doctors and students to connect with their state association and participate in these meetings.
Please know that at every step in preparing for AOA on Capitol Hill 2023, the AOA advocacy volunteers and staff stand ready to assist, including with scheduling support, and preparing for and maximizing the impact of every contact with a Congressional office. With that in mind, here are the basics about AOA on Capitol Hill 2023:
THE PRIORITIES: At a moment when everything in the health care policy landscape is changing, the AOA is working to build on past victories—each made possible by the grassroots efforts of AOA doctors and students—and ensure that optometry’s priorities are heard loud and clear across Capitol Hill:
- Preventing immediate Medicare pay cuts and ushering in an era of positive reimbursement updates by overhauling the program’s payment system;
- Ceasing abusive, anti-doctor health and vision plan policies, including those reflected in the provisions of the bipartisan AOA and American Dental Association-backed DOC Access Act;
- Ensuring fair valuation of and breaking down barriers to full scope care, including doctor of optometry-provided laser and other surgical eye care to America’s veterans;
- Protecting patient safety and the doctor-patient relationship by reigning in unscrupulous contact lens seller practices, including reliance on unreliable prescription verification robocalls and dangerous direct-to-consumer marketing and;
- Stopping health plan discrimination, including fighting for full implementation of the AOA’s landmark provider non-discrimination law and ending forced vision plan participation by Medicare Advantage plans.
REGISTRATION: It all starts with registering to attend Optometry's Meeting. A separate AOA on Capitol Hill 2023 registration is now open. The Optometry's Meeting schedule each day is shaped around providing time for our doctors and students, in close coordination with their state associations, to pre-arrange and participate in meetings with U.S. Senators and House members. Participation is open to all doctors and students attending Optometry's Meeting, including those participating in AOA+, the largest national mobilization ever of students and new doctors. As in years past, when Optometry's Meeting and AOA on Capitol Hill are held jointly, affiliate travel assistance funding will be redeployed to help send nearly 3,000 optometry students and new doctors to this important gathering.
SCHEDULING CAPITOL HILL APPOINTMENTS: As we have done in recent years, state affiliates will again have the option of using our scheduling service (Advocacy Associates) in the run-up and during AOA on Capitol Hill to help set appointments with your Congressional delegation. I have also attached information about a new AOA Advocacy Day app (hosted by Advocacy Associates) that accompanies this scheduling service. For those state affiliates wanting to set their own appointments, we will soon be sharing an AOA on Capitol Hill 2023 Meeting Request letter. State associations and Federal keyperson doctors can also arrange special fundraising dinners and receptions with pro-Optometry leaders in Congress. AOA-PAC stands ready to support these efforts.
BRIEFINGS AND MATERIALS: New this year, AOA on Capitol Hill 2023 will feature special in-person legislative briefing sessions Wednesday, June 21, from 1-2:30 p.m. and Thursday, June 22, from 7:30-9 a.m. These sessions will be identical and will cover legislative issues to be discussed during your Capitol Hill meetings. We will also make available AOA on Capitol Hill 2023 issue fact sheets ahead of your arrival in Washington, D.C., and will host these issue fact sheets on the AOA Advocacy Day app for ease of reference or for forwarding along to your congressional offices. Further, we will host a (yet to be scheduled) interactive webinar to discuss the latest legislative issues and other logistics for those interested. We will follow up with the date and time for that session shortly.
24/7 ADVOCACY SUPPORT ON SITE: AOA volunteers and staff will be available 24/7 to help in any way in the lead up to AOA on Capitol Hill 2023 and throughout the week of Optometry's Meeting. AOA advocacy volunteers and staff will be holding “office hours” throughout the week in the AOA Advocacy Operations Center onsite (we will share specific room shortly) in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. In the meantime, here’s some key contact information:
• AOA Chief Federal Advocacy Officer Matt Willette–firstname.lastname@example.org | 571.232.9200
• AOA Executive Director Jon Hymes–email@example.com | 202.957.7863
• AOA Advocacy Chair William T. Reynolds, O.D.– Advocacy@aoa.org
• AOA President Ron Benner, O.D.– President@aoa.org
DEBRIEFING: As previously mentioned, AOA volunteers and staff will maintain an AOA on Capitol Hill 2023 Advocacy Operations Center to assist with debriefing as well. The AOA Advocacy Day app also features an electronic debrief form that, once completed, is sent directly to AOA Advocacy volunteers and staff for immediate follow-up.
FOLLOW-UP: Congressional office visits are a key element in building a lasting advocacy relationship with U.S. Senators, House members and their aides. However, to truly position Optometry as a ready resource on health care policy issues, AOA doctors and students are asked to commit to year-round follow-up with their legislators. The AOA Advocacy Day app includes a feature to help send an immediate follow-up message to those that you met with on Capitol Hill. Additionally, following AOA on Capitol Hill 2023, AOA Advocacy volunteers and staff will provide regular updates to support further meetings, calls, letters and emails to Members of Congress.
Please contact me directly with any questions, concerns or comments about AOA on Capitol Hill 2023, or if there’s any way our team can be helpful to you in making the event the success it needs to be. We will be reaching out again soon with further details.