AOA-PAC chair talks importance of contributions, ensuring a seat at the table

July 28, 2016
AOA-PAC chair talks importance of contributions, ensuring a seat at the table.

Fred Dubick, O.D., took to heart a call for professional advocacy on behalf of optometry, and he encourages others to do the same. That's because as AOA-Political Action Committee (AOA-PAC) chair, Dr. Dubick knows the value a dollar makes in securing a seat at the table.

A past president of the California Optometric Association and member of the California State Board of Optometry, Dr. Dubick was recognized as AOA Advocate of the Year in 2013, in part, for his role in helping garner his lawmakers' support for National Health Service Corps legislation. He has volunteered in many capacities over the years, including as a member of the AOA Disaster Preparation Project Team and chief of eye care services for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee.

In a Q&A with, Dr. Dubick, a practitioner in Burbank, California, for more than 20 years, discusses the fundamental importance of supporting AOA-PAC, and how members' contributions keep optometry at the table.

How does my contribution to AOA-PAC make a difference?

A well-funded PAC is critical to ensuring our voice is heard as key health policies are decided both legislatively and in the regulatory agencies. The medicine and health insurance lobby targets members of Congress who support optometry, and we must stand up and defend those who support optometry at the federal level.

We educate those legislators on bills that matter to our profession and patients.

Whom is AOA-PAC competing with at the federal level?

The AOA-PAC is one of the largest health care political action committees operating in Washington, D.C. As a point of reference, the health insurers PAC is almost six times bigger than ours. The American Medical Association PAC is double our size, and the ophthalmology PAC (including their Surgical Defense Fund) is also double our size. All of these groups are, for the most part, on the opposite side of most of our issues.

What is the state of AOA-PAC?

We track and report our collections and disbursements in two-year cycles, and I am pleased to report that this cycle (2015-16) is on track to be 109% ahead of the last one. Our collections for the first 18 months are currently at $1,647,843. That is the good news, however, a disproportionately small group of large givers ($500 to $5,000) make up about a third of our collections. Only 8% of AOA members are giving.

How can we grow support for AOA-PAC?

The AOA-PAC Board and its individual state PAC representatives are only allowed to solicit our 33,000 AOA members. We cannot personally ask for contributions at a continuing education meeting that is open, as most are, to nonmembers. We must have the support of thousands more of our members to join AOA-PAC so we can continue our work. Our push this year has been to confirm that almost every state affiliate president and president-elect is a PAC member and they, in turn, reach out to their Board of Trustees to encourage 100% contribution participation from state leadership. In 2013, I was the president of the California Optometric Association, and of our nine board members, two-thirds were at a very high level of giving and none were less than $500. If that were to be the standard across all of our state affiliates, we would significantly move the needle.

Click here to invest in optometry's future by donating to AOA-PAC today, or call  AOA's Washington, D.C., office at 800.365.2219.

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