AOA, affiliates’ foundational advocacy work advancing optometry

July 2, 2024
States’ advocacy teams will convene across three regional advocacy meetings in the coming months to work toward advancing optometric care in their communities. See what’s on their agenda.
SGRC Meetings

Consecutive years of significant statehouse achievements mean optometry’s advocates have all-new lessons to share and examine as leaders convene for upcoming strategy sessions. 

The AOA State Government Relations Committee (SGRC) Regional Advocacy Meetings will call grassroots advocates, affiliate leaders and volunteers together in three workshop-style events this August through October to collaborate on advocacy successes from states’ recent legislative and regulatory battles. Now entering their third year, these SGRC meetings have honed a collaborative approach for seasoned statehouse advocates and emerging leaders alike to connect and gain firsthand intel for states’ ongoing advocacy efforts. 

“We’re really looking to build on the foundation that we’ve laid these past two years in preparing states for their legislative battles,” says Johndra McNeely, O.D., AOA SGRC chair. “We really want to keep this meeting new and engaging. I encourage my advocacy colleagues to come and bring their own scope experiences and questions, so we can learn from one another, take that vital knowledge back with us and implement it in our own states.” 

Find an SGRC regional advocacy meeting near you 

Combining some familiar—and frequently requested—topics and formats with all-new sessions, this year’s SGRC meetings will feature panel discussions by committee members and staff, as well as advocacy experts, legislators and other guest speakers on topics including: 

  • Strategies for being successful on offense—and defense 
  • What’s in your vision plan 
  • A deep dive into AOA’s Future Practice Initiative 

Additionally, Dr. McNeely says advocates will discuss new model language for vision plan legislation. 

“After attending this engaging, informative meeting, I feel much more well-equipped as a board member of our state association to help lead our profession into the future,” noted Margaret Moore, O.D., Connecticut Association of Optometrists board member, after attending a 2023 SGRC meeting. “I would encourage any other younger doctors of optometry to attend this meeting as well.” 

Although divided into three regional locales to facilitate logistical and travel concerns, the SGRC meetings are open for affiliate advocates to choose the date and location that makes sense for their teams. 

The AOA SGRC regional advocacy meetings are supported by Johnson & Johnson, the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, Lumenis and Sight Sciences. 

States’ advocacy momentum continues through 2024 

Nationwide, optometry’s advocates work to bolster their communities’ access to the full-scope, eye health and vision care services that doctors of optometry are trained, educated and certified to provide—and the AOA stands ready to help. 

Launched in 2018, the AOA Future Practice Initiative is an operational partnership alongside affiliates that helps leverage advocacy strengths and challenges historic impediments to optometric care. That close collaboration continues to produce significant legislative wins for optometry, including a notable string of scope advancements and checks against anti-patient, anti-competitive vision plan policies. 

To date in 2024, affiliates’ advocacy has demonstrated marked successes, ranging from scope of practice to vision plan advocacy wins. In April, approval of a legislative rule authorized West Virginian optometrists to provide optometric surgical procedures on and around the eyelid while Oklahoma passed a sweeping vision benefit manager (VBM) law and Texas continues the defense of its own landmark VBM law. Only recently, South Carolina received word that an 8-year legal saga over the state’s eye care consumer protection law ended with the judge ruling it constitutional, while some states battled so-called not-a-doctor messaging. 

Learn more about the state advocacy tools and resources available to AOA members. 

Related News

South Carolina judge overrules Visibly challenge to consumer protection law

The 8-year legal saga to protect South Carolinians’ eye health from substandard vision tests marked a favorable development as optometry’s advocates convened at Optometry’s Meeting®.

Oklahoma secures optometry’s latest win over vision plan abuses

A new law in Oklahoma provides a check on abuses by dominant prepaid vision plans (vision benefit managers). Patients and doctors of optometry win.

What kind of impact is optometry making on the nation’s eye health?

New study by economists underscores the role of optometry and how scope of practice expansion bodes well for patients and doctors.