Don't be the last to know: Optometry's Meeting® 2023 live news

June 24, 2023
This is the official news page for Optometry's Meeting® 2023. Here, you will find exclusive news coverage with live running news stories.

As the annual meeting of both the AOA and AOSA, Optometry's Meeting unites the profession's leaders and future to advance optometry. Across four days of education and networking, association business and career development, as well as a focus on advocacy, Optometry's Meeting packs a lot into a short amount of time.

Reference the day-by-day keys below to see the headlines originating on that day, then click and read more to find the latest information coming out of Optometry's Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Stories by day

Saturday, June 24, 2023

AOA president: Leading the way
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AOA president: Direction and destination
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AOA president: Made in Montana
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House of Delegates elects new officers and trustees
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House of Delegates adopts resolutions
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AOA President Dr. Benner announces multi-year, pediatric eye health ‘mobilization’ 
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Friday, June 23, 2023

‘Wildly successful’ in independent practice
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Students get the uplifting lowdown on advocacy
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AOAExcel Career Center Fair & Residency Summit promotes networking, career opportunities
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HHS’ Ramirez extolls the care provided by doctors of optometry
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HHS Sec. Becerra’s staff reiterate importance of preventive, comprehensive eye care
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Patients Rising co-founder, executive director recognized for key partnership
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Randall Markarian, DMD, speaks to collaboration between AOA, ADA
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Thursday, June 22, 2023

AOSA Optometry Student Bowl™ XXXII crowns a champion
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Optometry’s future advocates
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State of affairs
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A ground game for gains
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The positive state of the AOA
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Making a case for success
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Paraoptometrics collaborate, celebrate at Optometry’s Meeting
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Optometry champion U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter honored
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Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Worthy challenges attendees to recognize opportunities
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Keynote speaker Cassandra Worthy shares ‘change enthusiasm’ strategy
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AOA, AOSA presidents welcome attendees to Optometry’s Meeting
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2,400+ students, new doctors rock AOA+ Rally on opening night
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Advocate, collaborate, elevate: Optometry’s Meeting® 2023 kicks off 
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Optometry’s advocates prep for Capitol Hill meetings
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Stopping health, vision plan abuses at federal level
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Protecting seniors’ access to critical eye, vision care
Read more

Modernizing the contact lens prescription verification system
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Countering ‘not-a-doctor’ legislation
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Ensuring veterans’ access to essential care provided by optometry
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Your Optometry's Meeting® 2023 news


AOA president: Made in Montana

AOA president: Leading the way

June 24, 2023

Where is AOA going? In his presentation to the House of Delegates, Dr. Benner outlined several pursuits under his presidency including calling out vision plans, promoting contemporary eye care; supporting optometry’s full recognition as independent licensed providers; growing membership and membership for all; leading the way on education; looking at optometric practice beyond today; further expanding its national voice; and leading a meaningful mobilization of eye health and vision care access for children through a public/private/health care industry partnership. “We want to ensure that the next generations of our children will get the eye health and vision care they need and deserve, and optometry will lead the way,” Dr. Benner said.

Stretch yourself, be unafraid to look over the horizon and refuse to let others define or speak for the profession, he concluded. “Where are you going?” Dr. Benner asked delegates and AOA staff. “Where are we going? Like that horizon, our professional opportunities are big and wide.”

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Read more about the children’s eye and vision initiative

AOA president: Made in Montana

AOA president: Direction and destination

June 24, 2023

Today’s AOA won’t wait for things to get done—the AOA will do it, the AOA president said during his presidential remarks Saturday. “We have an organization that is prepared to act, respond and move forward,” continued Dr. Benner, promising that AOA will be bold, seize opportunities and act in the profession’s best interests. “Just like those people on those planes, we have a direction and a destination—full recognition, full participation and a fair field of opportunity as part of the essential health care community. The work you see being done now, by this group, by this organization, is only the contrails of where we are going.”

AOA president: Made in Montana

AOA president: Made in Montana

June 24, 2023

Growing up in the vast “hinter lands” of eastern Montana—amid the sparsely-populated open prairies, wooded river bottoms and endless skies—left an indelible impression on AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D. During his closing presidential address to the House of Delegates, Dr. Benner said that he learned a thing or two about living life in flyover country and watching the planes overhead: things that might apply to his views as AOA president. “I always looked to the horizon,” he said. “I’d wonder what we couldn’t see. I wanted to know what is over that next hill.” His view of the world was also shaped by his father. His father’s wisdom? Don’t expect others to do it for you, and work for what you want. He still abides by those. “You will find no one who will work harder for this profession,” he said.

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Resources:
Read a bio of Dr. Benner



House of Delegates elects new officers and trustees

June 24, 2023

With Ronald L. Benner, O.D., continuing as AOA president in 2023-24, the organization filled out the rest of its leadership team. Elected and installed on the Board of Trustees on the final day of Optometry’s Meeting 2023 was Steven T. Reed, O.D., (Mississippi) as president-elect; Jacquie M. Bowen, O.D., (Colorado) as vice president; Teri K. Geist, O.D., (Nebraska) as secretary-treasurer; Robert C. Layman, O.D., (Ohio), immediate past president; Terri A. Gossard, O.D., M.S., (Ohio), reelected trustee; Curtis A. Ono, O.D., (Washington) reelected trustee; and Tad R. Kosanovich, O.D., (Florida) newly elected. Continuing their terms are Belinda R. Starkey, O.D., (Arkansas), Paul M. Barney, O.D., (Alaska), and Marrie S. Read, O.D., MBA, (Armed Forces and Federal Optometric Services).

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Resources:
Read about AOA’s officers and trustees

House of Delegates adopts resolutions

House of Delegates adopts resolutions

June 24, 2023

The AOA House of Delegates passed four measures strengthening existing resolutions: (1) calls on all stakeholders to evaluate the impact of current health and vision plan compensation models on the potential future availability of the highest level of patient care. The AOA and its affiliate associations are asked to work with state and federal legislatures and agencies to ensure enforcement of current laws regulating health and vision plans, and to take steps to ensure reasonable plan structures and valuation practices for health and vision plan benefit; (2) reaffirms AOA’s position that vision therapy is an integral part of optometric practice only to be practiced by doctors of optometry, ophthalmologists and other qualified professionals and that vision therapy and orthoptics by an unlicensed person, unless supervised by a qualified health care professional is contrary to the best interest of the public; (3) encourages student/new doctor attendance at future AOA+, AOA and affiliate events as well as lifelong membership; and (4) spotlights AOA’s highly successful Eye Deserve More public awareness campaign. A fifth resolution clarifies the definition of “federal government employee” for membership eligibility in the Armed Forces Optometric Society.

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Resources:
Keep up with the House of Delegates

AOA president announces multi-year, pediatric eye health ‘mobilization’

AOA president announces multi-year, pediatric eye health ‘mobilization’

June 24, 2023

AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D., issued a nationwide call to address glaring disparities in America’s pediatric eye health and vision care. In delivering his presidential address before the AOA House of Delegates on Saturday, Dr. Benner announced the AOA’s plan for a multi-year, public/private health care industry mobilization of doctors, industry, parents, teachers, policymakers and other stakeholders to come together and identify strategies to close the gap in children’s eye health.

Only a few years removed from pandemic disruptions that hastened adoption of online learning and saw digital screen time flourish, children’s eye health and vision have been shown to suffer in clinical data depicting increases in digital eyestrain, as well as myopia.

“We want to ensure that the next generations of our children will get the eye health and vision care they need and deserve,” Dr. Benner told delegates.

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Resources:
Check out photos from today’s presidential inauguration on the #OM2023 social wall

‘Wildly successful’ in independent practice

‘Wildly successful’ in independent practice

June 23, 2023

At the symposia by the AOA Center for Independent Practice (CIP), keynote speaker Tom Bowen, founder and CEO of THRIVE Practice and Life Development, engaged listeners with a combination of inspiration, business sense and cheerleading during his presentation, “Wildly Successful! Thriving in the New Age of Independent Practice.” Bowen shared some keys to success: delivering relationship-based patient care, collegiality, the availability of resources, income, equity and freedom. “I believe we are hardwired, deliberately hardwired, to experience our greatest joy in the service of one another,” Bowen said.

The CIP, launched last fall, is a resource for doctors of optometry to fill gaps and expand the knowledge for independence practice.

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Resources:
Learn more about the Center for Independent Practice.

Students get the uplifting lowdown on advocacy

Students get the uplifting lowdown on advocacy

June 23, 2023

Talking to hundreds of students from optometry schools around the country at the AOA+ Advocacy Workshop, two strong, strategic and memorable messages emerged. "If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” said Joe Ellis, O.D., former AOA-PAC chair, who presented a history of optometry’s advocacy and urged students to join the fight for the profession’s future expansion. Added Jeni Kohn, O.D., AOA-PAC chair, “We have fought over and over again to have our seat at the table and now that we have that spot, we can’t ever let up. Or we could end up on the menu, right?”

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Resources:
Learn more about AOA-PAC.

AOAExcel Career Center Fair & Residency Summit promotes networking, career opportunities

AOAExcel Career Center Fair & Residency Summit promotes networking, career opportunities

June 23, 2023

Thousands of optometry students and new graduates flocked to the Eye Care Square exhibit hall for the AOAExcel Career Center Fair & Residency Summit on Friday. With dozens of job fair booths and residency programs, the summit was abuzz with AOA+ attendees looking for opportunities to take the next step in their new careers. Employers leveraged the chance to interview many of the 2,400+ attendees, in addition to building connections and learning more about the academic and career paths ahead.

HHS’ Ramirez extolls the care provided by doctors of optometry

HHS’ Ramirez extolls the care provided by doctors of optometry

June 23, 2023

In continuing her speech on behalf of HHS Sec. Becerra, Ramirez praised the work of America’s often-beleaguered health care workforce that still contends with pandemic repercussions despite the official cessation of the public health emergency. Specifically, Ramirez noted how economic issues persist, creating not only staff retention but also pipeline issues in health care. Yet despite these consequential factors at play, health care professionals, such as doctors of optometry, continue to exhibit sheer fortitude.

“We [at HHS] really want to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” Ramirez told AOA’s House of Delegates. “Thank you for all you do, and thank you for looking out for all Americans.”

HHS Sec. Becerra’s staff reiterate importance of preventive, comprehensive eye care

HHS Sec. Becerra’s staff reiterate importance of preventive, comprehensive eye care

June 23, 2023

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra was recognized with an AOA Health Care Leadership Award during Friday’s AOA House of Delegates sessions. Accepting on his behalf was Deputy Chief of Staff Angela Ramirez, who delivered a presentation before delegates on the administration’s emphasis on equitable and affordable access to health care—especially preventive care—for all Americans. Ramirez noted the focus on transitioning the health care system from simply “illness care” and into comprehensive “wellness care,” and shared Sec. Becerra’s fondness for quipping, “better to prevent than to treat.”

“I may be preaching to the choir here,” Ramirez told delegates. “But, the importance of preventive care, including comprehensive eye examinations, cannot be understated; it’s critical to catching disease at its earliest stage. We saw during the pandemic how many Americans put their routine health appointments on hold, including routine eye exams, and how those missed appointments literally cost lives.”

Patients Rising co-founder, executive director recognized for key partnership

Patients Rising co-founder, executive director recognized for key partnership

June 23, 2023

Terry Wilcox, co-founder and executive director of Patients Rising, was presented an AOA Health Care Leadership Award during AOA’s House of Delegates for her organization’s support and advocacy for the Dental and Optometric Care Access Act. A leading patient advocacy organization speaking out on behalf of tens of millions of patients nationwide, Patients Rising has helped issue a call for Congress to put a stop to increasingly harmful vision benefit manager abuses. The group is urging lawmakers to act now to fix the broken vision plan market and has committed more than 110,000 members of its advocate network to ramping up the fight.

In relating her own personal stories about taking care of her mother and son, Wilcox shared her frustrating experiences navigating a complicated insurance landscape and why she’s personally supportive of the DOC Access Act, as well as formally committing her organization’s support to the legislation.

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Related Stories:
DOC Access Act gains Senate companion  
Resources:
DOC Access Act Fact Sheet



Randall Markarian, DMD, speaks to collaboration between AOA, ADA

Randall Markarian, DMD, speaks to collaboration between AOA, ADA

June 23, 2023

On the second day of the AOA House of Delegates, Randall Markarian, DMD, received an AOA Health Care Leadership Award on behalf of the American Dental Association (ADA) for their efforts to help advocate for the Dental and Optometric Care (DOC) Access Act, H.R. 1385 / S. 1424. As ADA ERISA Special Committee chair, Dr. Markarian spoke to the common challenges faced between dental care providers and doctors of optometry, especially as it relates to ERISA laws that preempt state insurance regulation laws. “My real goal is collaboration,” Dr. Markarian told delegates.

“My goal is to build a strong coalition of health care providers that can work together even though we’re in different areas of health care to make sure our patient rights are protected and that we can run our practices with less interference and take care of laws, like ERISA, that impede our ability to practice the way we want.

Additionally, Dr. Markarian spoke to future opportunities for collaboration in areas such as reining back the proliferation of direct-to-consumer medical products, including orthodontics and contact lenses.

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Related Stories:
DOC Access Act gains Senate companion  

Resources:
DOC Access Act Fact Sheet 


AOSA Optometry Student Bowl™ XXXII crowns a champion

AOSA Optometry Student Bowl™ XXXII crowns a champion

June 22, 2023

Zachary Ney of the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) lifted the trophy after another AOSA Optometry Student Bowl™ powered by EssilorLuxottica. The high-speed, high-stakes test of optometric knowledge pits one champion from each school against all others and is a highlight of Optometry’s Meeting year after year. This year, UHCO stole the show after being awarded the competition’s Spirit Award as well.


Optometry’s future advocates

Optometry’s future advocates

June 22, 2023

Emily Benson, president of the 7,000-member strong American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), addressed the House of Delegates and thanked the AOA’s members for the current advances and future path they are laying for the profession. Benson stressed that future doctors of optometry are also prepared to fight on behalf of the profession’s future. In preparation, Benson said, the AOSA was encouraging student leadership development, expanding its advocacy, growing diversity efforts and enhancing communications. They are eager to take back to their schools what they had learned at Optometry’s Meeting. “Students are enthusiastic, willing and ready to serve our patients and our profession,” she said.

View the revamped OptometryStudents website

Making a case for success

State of affairs

June 22, 2023

What’s the state of AOA in 2023? Two former AOA presidents, William T. Reynolds, O.D., and Robert C. Layman, O.D., painted a picture of an AOA that has seen historic gains and is looking to build on that momentum due to the efforts of the AOA, its affiliates, doctors and students. That means overcoming the disrespect and devaluing done by vision plans among other issues, Dr. Layman says. Among the Board of Trustees’ many initiatives is to engage in direct dialogue with vision plans. “The AOA, through our state, federal and regulatory advocacy teams, is working every day to protect and advance our role in health care and ensure that we not only have the tools to deliver contemporary eye health and vision care, but also to set the national agenda for the future.”


Making a case for success

A ground game for gains

June 22, 2023

Executive Director Jon Hymes concluded his staff report to the House of Delegates with optimism despite the headwinds ahead, such as the recently derailed not-a-doctor campaign by ophthalmology and organized medicine. Hymes is energized about the future and laid out AOA’s strategy to take on the issues that will advance the profession. “So here we stand—not a perfect moment but a promising one,” he concluded. “A strong organization working hard to grow stronger, but with every indication in place that a future gathering of this House, perhaps held in conjunction with OM 2038 (and AOA+ and AOA on Capitol Hill) and led by young women and men here among us today, will look back in gratitude and appreciation for your faithful service, your enlightened leadership and wise focus on the future.”


Making a case for success

The positive state of the AOA

June 22, 2023

In his remarks, AOA Executive Director Jon Hymes made his case for AOA being well-prepared to meet head-on the headwinds facing the profession. AOA’s finances are rock solid. Its leadership is battle-tested, bold and visionary. The affiliate family is united, working on behalf of members and the public. The value of a degree in optometry has risen. Membership is stable and the envy post-COVID of other associations. “Our partnerships are further extending our reach,” Hymes said. “Our priorities are moving forward. Our support is growing. Our influence is increasing. Optometry is advancing. State optometric associations are setting the legislative agenda across the country in the profession’s latest era of historic scope expansion.”


Making a case for success

Making a case for success

June 22, 2023

In his staff report to the House of Delegates, executive director Jon Hymes delivered the state of the AOA address and pronounced this gathering of the profession the “most powerful and consequential gathering of doctors of optometry ever. Now that’s a bold claim. So, I will back it up.” Hymes proceeded to talk about the more than 5,000 people attending this meeting in Washington, D.C., including 2,400 students, new graduates and faculty. More than 450 AOA on Capitol Hill meetings were underway. The profession is united and focused, looking to this gathering and its leaders to lead the AOA forward to “fight for what’s right and what’s needed. To pass bills, to secure vetoes and to do whatever else it takes to assure practice success and continued advancement of the profession,” Hymes said.


Paraoptometrics collaborate, celebrate at Optometry’s Meeting

Paraoptometrics collaborate, celebrate at Optometry’s Meeting

June 22, 2023

Paraoptometrics gathered to network and celebrate their profession during the Paraoptometric Award Luncheon and Idea Exchange at Optometry’s Meeting. Supported by Alcon, the Paraoptometric Award Luncheon honored the achievements of several paraoptometrics, including Paraoptometric of the Year Brandy Yeack, CPOA, Paraoptometric Community Service awardee Brianne Speaks, CPOA, and Paraoptometric Lifetime Achievement awardees Roberta Beers, CPOT, Beverly Roberts, CPOT, and Erlinda Rodriguez, CPOT. Immediately following the luncheon, paraoptometric attendees shared a networking session to bolster collaboration among the growing profession.

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Related stories:
Annual American Optometric Association Award Winners


Optometry champion U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter honored

Optometry champion U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter honored

June 22, 2023

U.S. Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter, R-Ga., was honored with the AOA’s 2023 Health Care Leadership Award for championing the charge of doctors of optometry and patients in Congress. Rep. Carter, who recently reintroduced the bipartisan Dental and Optometric Care Access Act (DOC Access Act) ( H.R.1385) in the House, talked about his 40-year career as a pharmacist and how he shared from firsthand knowledge doctors’ concerns over the anti-competitive impact of vertical integration by vision plans on the practice of optometry and patients. “Health care really should be, and is in most cases, a bipartisan effort,” says Carter. “We all want the same thing in health care. We want accessibility, affordability and quality. That’s what everyone wants.”

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Related stories:
DOC Access Act gains Senate companion

Resources:Visit AOA’s Action Center

Worthy challenges attendees to recognize opportunities

Worthy challenges attendees to recognize opportunities

June 21, 2023

In diving deeper, Worthy noted that recognizing the difficult part of change is identifying those emotions and recognizing that every change presents an opportunity. With every change, Worthy says, attendees will fall back into the first step—signal—and must proceed through the process all over again. “The more times you work through these steps, you’ll find you’ll spend less time in the signal stage and more time in realizing the moments of opportunity ahead,” Worthy said. Worthy challenged attendees to identify the change inspiring the strongest signal emotion, then think of three ways that change is inviting them to grow. Finally, Worthy encouraged attendees to identify one action to take.

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Related stories: Optometry’s Meeting announces keynote speaker, special events for Washington, D.C.

Keynote speaker Cassandra Worthy shares ‘change enthusiasm’ strategy

Keynote speaker Cassandra Worthy shares ‘change enthusiasm’ strategy

June 21, 2023

Cassandra Worthy, founder and CEO of Change Enthusiasm Global, delivered the keynote address at the AOA Experience: Opening Session, supported by Johnson & Johnson Vision. With a background in major organizational mergers and acquisitions, Worthy is recognized as a thought-leader on change that companies need to build organizational resilience, adaptability and perseverance.

“It can be learned, it can be taught and that’s what this is about—it starts right here and right now,” Worthy said.

In sharing her ‘change enthusiasm’ strategy with attendees, Worthy encouraged three steps: signal, opportunity and choice. Akin to a stoplight—red, yellow and green—Worthy encouraged attendees to recognize their core emotions that indicate change is necessary; identify the options available to move forward; and make a choice on the opportunities before you.

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Related stories: Optometry’s Meeting announces keynote speaker, special events for Washington, D.C.

AOA, AOSA presidents welcome attendees to Optometry’s Meeting

AOA, AOSA presidents welcome attendees to Optometry’s Meeting

June 21, 2023

Optometry’s Meeting officially kicked off its opening night with the AOA Experience: Opening Session, supported by Johnson & Johnson Vision. With messages from AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D., and AOSA President Emily Benson, the AOA Experience welcomed attendees to the 126th Annual AOA Congress & 55th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting and set an inspirational tone for the days ahead.

“We have more than 5,000 of our best doctors, students, staff and industry partners here, actively engaged in optometry! All here with one uniting goal: to voice our collective vision for the future of eye health and vision care to our legislators and America at large,” Dr. Benner said. “And have no doubt that we are being heard.”

“Throughout this week you’ll have the opportunity to experience top-notch education, advocate for our profession and connect with industry leaders from across the nation,” Benson noted. “Just by being here, you are actively contributing to a larger movement in health care to ultimately provide better care for our patients.”

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Resources: Check out the AOA Experience: Opening Session on the #OM2023 social wall.

2,400+ students, new doctors rock AOA+ Rally on opening night

2,400+ students, new doctors rock AOA+ Rally on opening night

June 21, 2023

Over 2,000 students and new doctors built momentum behind the profession’s advocacy on the opening night of Optometry’s Meeting in Washington, D.C., as the AOA+ Rally delivered a high-energy, high-intensity atmosphere. Headlined with live music from the Indiana University School of Optometry student band, Rose Bengal, the rally delivered an electrifying atmosphere for challenging students and new doctors to champion optometry’s advocacy while in the nation’s capital. In addition to the rally, attendees raised funds for the AOA-PAC and connected with their future affiliate associations to learn more about getting involved out of school.

“You’ve been hearing the same message throughout,” AOA+ Rally emcee and AOA-PAC Chair Jeni Kohn, O.D., told attendees. “You guys have to stay involved, donate your time and be a part of the advocacy that keeps our profession moving forward. Don’t forget that your voice matters, and just by being here, you’re already making a difference."

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Resources: Check out the AOA+ Opening Rally on the #OM2023 social wall.

Advocate, collaborate, elevate: Optometry’s Meeting® 2023 kicks off

Advocate, collaborate, elevate: Optometry’s Meeting® 2023 kicks off

June 21, 2023

Nearly 5,000 doctors of optometry, optometric students, paraoptometrics and others are expected to attend the profession’s premier annual event, aligning four days of networking and leadership opportunities alongside a slate of progressive continuing education and professional development, an expansive Eye Care Square exhibit hall, impactful networking and a unique focus on professional advocacy in the nation’s capital. Stay in the know by following Optometry’s Meeting on Facebook and Twitter and watch for daily news updates from the profession’s premier meeting, posted at aoa.org/news. Get the latest by following the official hashtag, #OM2023, on the meeting’s dedicated live-running social wall.

 Optometry’s advocates prep for Capitol Hill meetings

Optometry’s advocates prep for Capitol Hill meetings

June 21, 2023

Over 650 doctors of optometry, students, staff and advocacy experts convened for AOA on Capitol Hill, happening in conjunction with Optometry's Meeting, as well as the priority issues briefings held during the meeting. Only blocks away from the U.S. Capitol, the briefing sessions in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center provided a forum opportunity for optometry’s advocates to dive deeper into the four priority issues they will champion across 430 individual meetings with members of Congress this week. Follow optometry’s advocacy during AOA on Capitol Hill using the hashtag #EyesontheHill23 or on the Optometry’s Meeting live-running social wall and keep reading to learn more about these four priorities.  

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Related stories: Help voice optometry’s priorities at AOA on Capitol Hill: Here’s how

 Stopping health, vision plan abuses at federal level

Stopping health, vision plan abuses at federal level

June 21, 2023

Optometry’s advocates received a briefing on the Dental and Optometric Care (DOC) Access Act, H.R. 1385 / S. 1424, key federal legislation to push back against anti-patient, anti-doctor policies implemented by health insurers and vision plans. Jointly championed by the AOA and the American Dental Association, the DOC Access Act would complement state laws to prohibit plans from (1) limiting patients’ and doctors’ choice of labs, and (2) price fixing for noncovered services and materials.

“The vision coverage system is broken,” says Tracy Sepich, O.D., AOA Federal Relations Committee member.

Right now, Congress is talking about lack of competition, insurer consolidation, lack of plan benefit transparency, rising costs and vertical integration, Dr. Sepich says, so the DOC Access Act comes at a pertinent time.

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Related stories: DOC Access Act gains Senate companion 

Resources: DOC Access Act Fact Sheet 

Protecting seniors’ access to critical eye, vision care

Protecting seniors’ access to critical eye, vision care

June 21, 2023

Stability in Medicare reimbursements also remains a crucial policy point as optometry’s advocates look to garner congressional support for legislation that would reform current payment policies. The Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act, H.R. 2474, would apply an inflationary update to help bring budgetary stability as doctors still contend with a range of economic factors.

“The system by which Medicare physicians are reimbursed is broken and unsustainable,” says Charles Fitzpatrick, O.D., AOA FRC member. “We’re here to adopt commonsense fixes that can address payment uncertainty by changing the current law and providing a modest physician payment update tied to the Medicare Economic Index.”

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Related stories:Congress heeds AOA’s call to stop Medicare pay cuts, but lawmakers’ plan falls short

Resources: Reforming Medicare Payment System Fact Sheet

Modernizing the contact lens prescription verification system

Modernizing the contact lens prescription verification system

June 21, 2023

Additionally, optometry’s advocates will build support behind the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act, H.R. 2748, federal legislation that would ban problematic robocalls and restore commonsense health and safety precautions. The legislation would require retailers to use direct communication to confirm prescription accuracy and require a HIPAA-compliant method for allowing patients to upload digital prescription copies. “As a result of the lack of FTC enforcement, some online sellers have figured out how to game the current system, specifically through the ‘passive verification’ system,” Stephen Montaquila, O.D., AOA FRC member. “The FTC has recognized that robocalls pose a serious threat to patient health and safety but their inaction is why we must take action.”

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Related stories: Contact lens safety legislation proposes banning robocalls

Resources: Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act Fact Sheet

 Countering ‘not-a-doctor’ legislation

Countering ‘not-a-doctor’ legislation

June 21, 2023

Katie Gilbert-Spear, O.D., J.D., AOA FRC member, provided an update on current ‘not a doctor’ legislation in several states, including the recently defeated effort in Florida. Only weeks earlier, Gov. Ron DeSantis tendered an eleventh-hour veto on a bill that would have required health care practitioners to identify themselves in a specific manner, i.e., disclosing the type of license under which they provide care. Breach of this law would have resulted in a felony charge, punishable by a $10,00 fine and denial of licensure.

Dr. Spear noted that proliferation of these bills represents optometry’s opponents best efforts to derail scope advancement efforts in recent years.

“This is a direct result of all the legislative successes that we’ve had,” Dr. Spear says.

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Related stories:  DeSantis decision delivers historic win for Florida optometrists and patients

 Countering ‘not-a-doctor’ legislation

Ensuring veterans’ access to essential care provided by optometry

June 21, 2023

In the same way not-a-doctor legislation seeks to muddle full recognition of doctors of optometry, Dr. Spear offered an update on advocacy efforts with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). On the one hand, the VA continues to concretize national standards of practice (NSP) for doctors of optometry—“think of it as a national scope of practice,” Dr. Spear says—that have elicited a strong response from optometry’s opponents seeking the most restrictive scope for VA optometrists. However, the AOA and Armed Forces and Federal Optometric Services (AFOS) are advocating for the most advanced scope.

“The fight over NSP is intensifying and how it is ultimately decided will have a big impact on state scope battles for years to come,” Dr. Spear says.

Additionally, the AOA and AFOS support efforts to grow and retain optometrists within the VA, including recognizing optometrists as physicians, raising pay and opening up higher-level supervisory positions.

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Related stories: Bill seeks-physician level recognition, competitive pay and opportunities for VA optometry

Resources:
VA CAREERS Act and National Standards of Practice Fact Sheet

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Be in the know: Optometry's Meeting® 2024 live news

This is the official news page for Optometry's Meeting® 2024. Here, you will find exclusive news coverage with live running news stories.

Discover Music City

Music City will host this year's Optometry’s Meeting®, June 19-22. With all the profession’s premier event has to offer, there’s no need to leave the convention center. But in the host city of Nashville, Tennessee, there is no shortage of things to see, eat and experience. Find out what the locals recommend.

What to know ahead of potentially dangerous hurricane season

If and when disaster strikes, the AOA Foundation’s Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief is here to help ease the burden for doctors of optometry and students.