Optometry’s premier advocacy event, Sept. 9-10, mobilizes doctors around AOA priorities
With so many pressing issues before the profession, from the pandemic to a flawed paperwork rule, AOA on Capitol Hill 2020 may prove to be among the most consequential in the meeting’s history.
AOA on Capitol Hill is the single-largest annual advocacy event and the centerpiece of the profession’s national advocacy efforts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, organizers regrouped, moved the event from early 2020 to Sept. 9-10 and will mobilize doctors across the country in virtual meetings with federal legislators to raise awareness around optometry’s policy priorities at a critical moment when representatives are convening on future relief and other endeavors.
Now, more than ever, the AOA needs its members and affiliates to pull together and amplify optometry’s voice. Participation is open to all advocacy-minded member doctors, students and staff with sessions tailored around providing attendees time, in close coordination with their state associations, to pre-arrange and participate in virtual meetings with U.S. Senators and House members.
“While nothing can replace the in-depth and in-person advocacy that has become a hallmark of our AOA on Capitol Hill event, this year we’re looking to take full advantage of this key opportunity to meet virtually with hundreds of U.S. House and Senate leaders just as Congress is considering new virus relief legislation, a potential fix to unworkable Contact Lens Rule changes, and addressing worsening vision plan abuses,” AOA President William T. Reynolds, O.D., says.
“The tremendous growth of AOA on Capitol Hill–from fewer than 200 doctors attending a decade ago to more than 500 doctors and students last year–is a key reason why AOA continues to build a track record of wins and why we’ve been recognized again and again as one of the most effective and respected lobbying groups in the nation's capital,” Dr. Reynolds says. “For the first time, paraoptometric staff can participate. They will add a unique voice and perspective to this meeting.”
Threats to AOA’s legislative priorities
Beyond the crushing challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis, both health-wise and economic, the profession is fighting to:
- Convince congress to intervene in the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) flawed final rule amending the Contact Lens Rule, which will require prescribers effective in September to obtain signed acknowledgement forms indicating patients' receipt of contact lens prescriptions, and to keep record of that patient confirmation for at least three years. Despite years of opposition from the AOA, other physician organizations, consumer groups, members of Congress and industry, federal regulators decided to move forward with changes that aren't substantiated by federal complaints data and at a time when the tens of thousands of small health care practices affected by this ruling are coping with the global coronavirus pandemic. AOA has amassed more support than ever on this subject and needs members to keep the issue front and center. Further, make the contact lens prescription verification process safer and easier to navigate for patients. With the growing use of disruptive and unreliable prescription verification robocalls, the health and safety of patients are increasingly being put at risk. Verification robocalls have become the favorite tool of unscrupulous online contact lens sellers looking to sidesteps patient safety protections now in law in the hopes of selling contact lenses that were never prescribed and fitted by an eye doctor. H.R. 3975, the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act, would eliminate the use of prescription verification robocalls and would make it easier for patients to digitally verify and receive the contact lens prescribed to them by their eye doctor.
- Rally industry allies against continued anti-patient, anti-doctor vision plan abuses. Vision plans have contributed to maintaining a stagnant reimbursement environment and continue to introduce policies that could negatively impact doctors of optometry across the country. Muster support for the bipartisan bill, H.R. 3762, the Dental and Optometric Care Access Act (DOC Access Act), which would prevent ERISA and other federally regulated vision and health plans from placing limits on a doctor's choice of labs and lenses, as well as levying mandates on noncovered services and materials. Additionally, the DOC Access Act would limit plan contracts to two years, unless the doctor chooses to extend, and includes a private right of action provision that allows doctors to take offending plans directly to court.
- Guaranteeing, amid the COVID-19 crisis, that the profession's essential care and physician role continues to be fully recognized in emergency laws and regulations.
Virtual AOA on Capitol Hill event details:
Virtual AOA on Capitol Hill, Sept. 9-10
Participation is open to all advocacy-minded doctors, optometry students and paraoptometrics with sessions tailored to providing attendees time, in close coordination with their state associations, to pre-arrange and participate in virtual meetings with U.S. Senators and House members.
Wednesday, Sept. 9: 6:30-10 p.m. CT including opening session, legislative briefings and advocacy training.
Thursday, Sept. 10: Legislative meetings (all day-by invite only) followed by 7-8 p.m. CT closing program with keynote speaker Nathan Gonzales, leading political analyst and national pollster, cable and broadcast news pundit, providing deep insights into races for control of the House, Senate and presidency.
For more information, email email@example.com or call 800.365.2219
Virtual AOA on Capitol Hill
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The more than $2 trillion aid package and omnibus bill include a laundry list of AOA advocacy priorities, including a delay to FTC Contact Lens Rule changes, a new PPP “second draw” and deductibility fix, and reversal of steep Medicare pay cuts.
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