Face time: AOA on Capitol Hill is an opportunity for optometric persuasion on policy
"Legislators know that anyone who goes to the seat of government to advocate on behalf of the public and the profession must be taken seriously. AOA on Capitol Hill does that in the most efficient and effective way."
Face-to-face office visits with members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and their aides are key in building a lasting advocacy relationship between congresspersons and the AOA. "As a legislated profession, both at the state and federal level, advocacy is the only way to ensure that laws and rules are in the best interest of our patients and our profession," says Clarke Newman, O.D., chair of the AOA Federal Relations Committee.
"The best form of advocacy is face to face with one's legislator," Dr. Newman adds. "Letters, emails and phone calls are all great and effective, but nothing has the impact of looking your legislators in the eye and stating your case—especially when you take the time to travel to Washington, D.C. Legislators know that anyone who goes to the trouble and expense to go to the seat of government to advocate on behalf of the public and the profession must be taken seriously. AOA on Capitol Hill does that in the most efficient and effective way."
Reach out to coordinate your attendance with your local affiliate and see how you can help prepare for your visit and your affiliate's meetings in Washington. Participation is open to all advocacy-minded doctors and students. The event is organized around providing time for attendees, in close coordination with their state associations, to participate in pre-arranged meetings with U.S. senators and House members. If you have questions, contact Tess Milliorn at 703.837.1345 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharing AOA's priorities
At AOA on Capitol Hill, attendees will share stories and discuss optometry's priorities. Leading up to the meeting, AOA will provide attendees with detailed briefing information about the following:
- Safeguarding full physician recognition and inclusion in physician-level programs, including under Medicare.
- Upholding existing laws that assure patient access to in-person, comprehensive eye examinations, including essential pediatric eye health coverage and a ban on discrimination by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and other plans.
- Ensuring patients' safety from unsafe telehealth schemes and services and illegal contact lens sales.
- Ceasing abusive, anti-doctor and anti-patient health and vision plan policies, as reflected by the provisions of the AOA and American Dental Association (ADA)-backed, bipartisan Dental and Optometric Care Access Act (H.R. 1606).
- Supporting essential eye health care for America's veterans as opponents threaten optometry services and encourage the use of unproven technology.
- Interjecting more competition into the insurance marketplace by removing the special health insurance anti-trust exemption as reflected by the provisions of H.R. 372, which passed the U.S. House in 2017 and is backed by the AOA, the ADA, and the American Hospital Association.
AOA volunteers and staff are available 24/7 to help in any way leading up to and during AOA on Capitol Hill 2018. For information, reach out to Matt Willette, AOA's director of congressional relations, at email@example.com or 703.837.1001.
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