The state of optometry: Expanding scope of practice
Each week, AOA News is offering a new entry in a series based on "The State of the Optometric Profession: 2013." This report and summit from Optometry's Meeting® 2013 included analysis on key industry influencers.
Up this week: government--and the results of advocacy efforts.
"The AOA and affiliates have done a remarkable job at putting the tools in place for optometry."
Government: Scope, advocacy and education
As the scope of optometric practice continues to expand, the AOA and affiliates remain active in educating lawmakers about the profession.
Thanks to AOA-led advocacy, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services defined essential pediatric benefits as a yearly eye exam and materials, resulting in increased access to optometric services.
"Millions of youth who will become eligible for Medicaid benefits in 2014 and whose families enroll in new small group and individual health plans, as a result of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, will have increased access to OD offices to take advantage of these benefits," the report noted.
The AOA and affiliates will continue to address state laws regarding access, reimbursement and provider non-discrimination.
"The AOA and affiliates have done a remarkable job at putting the tools in place for optometry," said Stephen M. Montaquila, O.D., AOA Third Party Center Executive Committee chair.
To continue expanding OD scope, the profession must do the following:
- Maintain strong affiliate and AOA associations. The report encouraged advocacy efforts and membership: "There is no better return on investment than seeing your dues dollars used to protect and expand patient access to optometrists."
- Pursue lifelong learning. An up-to-date education will help ODs provide the broadest scope of services possible.