Enough is enough when it comes to anti-patient, anti-competitive health and vision plan abuses, say the doctors taking part in today's national day of action, drumming up support for important legislation.
In a joint petition to U.S. House members on March 23 (3/23), AOA doctors and students alike—as well as American Dental Association (ADA) members—called on lawmakers' support of H.R. 3323, the Dental and Optometric Care Access Act, to help level the playing field for patients and their doctors by targeting some of the most offensive vision and health plan abuses.
Introduced by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Georgia) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), H.R. 3323 is a bipartisan, AOA/ADA-backed effort aimed at outlawing detrimental policies by ERISA and other federally regulated vision and health plans, including:
- Restrictions on medical plan participation
- Limits on a doctor's choice of lab
- Mandates on noncovered services and materials
Although H.R. 3323 continues to gain support on Capitol Hill, vision plans are actively lobbying to derail this progress, opposing the bill because they believe it would only "reduce quality, value ... and increase administrative costs," according to one vision plan association representative.
"The DOC Access Act represents a national counterattack on the anti-doctor and anti-patient policies of health and vision plans and was written to ensure that doctors and patients, not insurance and plan executives, are again at the center of important health care decisions," says AOA President Steven A. Loomis, O.D. "Knowing that a significant amount of time, money and energy is now being devoted to fighting this key AOA-backed legislation, it is now more important than ever that a growing number of AOA doctors and students commit today to fighting back and helping us build support on Capitol Hill for H.R. 3323."
On this national day of action, the AOA encourages doctors and students to help push back against vision plan abuses by urging lawmakers to co-sponsor H.R. 3323, or by thanking them for their continued support of the bill. Find out if your lawmaker is already a supporter of H.R. 3323, and join colleagues in taking action today.
- Here's how: Send an electronic letter to your U.S. House member.
Log in to the AOA's Online Legislative Action Center. Select "Take Action," under the heading, "Help Put Patients and Doctors Back in Control of Important Health Care Decisions by Curbing Anti-Patient, Anti-Competitive Health and Vision Plan Abuses: Co-sponsors Needed for H.R. 3323." Personalize the letter to make it even more pertinent to your patients and community.
- Connect with your lawmaker on social media.
There's hardly an easier, more effective way to publicly urge lawmakers' support for AOA-backed legislation than social media. If your lawmaker has already co-sponsored H.R. 3323, consider using social media to thank them for doing so, and if they haven't, urge their support.
Sample Tweet: @YourLawmaker Help put patients & doctors back in control of important health care decisions, please cosponsor H.R. 3323. #DOCAccessAct
Make optometry's voice resonate: Congressional Advocacy Conference
Today's national day of action sets the stage for AOA's Congressional Advocacy Conference, April 17-19, in Washington, D.C. This annual conference convenes advocacy leaders and students alike not only to help advance optometry's legislative priorities—such as the DOC Access Act—but also to take those concerns directly to lawmakers.
Building on last year's momentum, the congressional conference seeks to garner more support for AOA-backed legislation, as well as address the profession's top priorities, including cracking down on unscrupulous Internet contact lens sellers, and ensuring that telehealth, as well as so-called online "vision tests," are not used as a replacement for in-person, comprehensive eye exams.
Congress’ Sept. 15 deadline for bill language passes with lawmakers backing key guardrails that AOA’s advocates say must be in place for a workable benefit. Yet, price tag developments may forestall efforts.
A September deadline means now is the time for AOA members to act. Attend an upcoming special advisory group session for the latest legislative information and contact your members of Congress.
The AOA continues its support of optometry students, advocating for a temporary suspension of student loan debt due to the pandemic, as well as a long-term avenue toward loan forgiveness and repayment.