August advocacy: Support optometry’s top priorities

When Congress is in recess during August, U.S. senators and representatives travel home to meet with constituents, host town hall sessions and participate in community events. That's when hundreds of AOA Federal Keypersons go to work.

To help the cause, volunteer to be a Federal Keyperson.

AOA Federal Keypersons--ODs who serve as frontline links to federal elected officials--reach out to build new support for the profession's top priorities on Capitol Hill. This year, two bipartisan bills before Congress aim to expand access to eye health care and fully recognize optometry's essential primary care role. However, both bills lack sufficient support at this time to advance. 

AOA Federal Keypersons are trying to change that by setting up meetings to brief legislators and ask them to join as co-sponsors of these bills:

  • National Health Service Corps Improvement Act (H.R. 920/S. 1445): to end the exclusion of optometrists from the National Health Service Corps student loan repayment and scholarship programs. These federal incentives--open to a range of other health care providers for decades--extend essential primary care and other services to medically underserved communities.
  • Optometric Equity in Medicaid Act (H.R. 855): to fully recognize ODs as providers of physician services in Medicaid and to eliminate a loophole in federal law that can be used by state bureaucrats and Medicaid third-party payers to restrict patient access to covered eye health care.

To help the cause, volunteer to be a Federal Keyperson. Educate your representatives in Washington about optometry and AOA-backed bills. To get involved, email Jon Hymes, AOA Washington office director, or call 800-365-2219.

August 22, 2013

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