With the Affordable Care Act going into effect in 2014, the healthcare discussions continue to heat up on Capitol Hill. Optometry needs to maintain its role in these discussions of healthcare reform! This important task can be achieved when we optometric physicians and students alike gather on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. for the American Optometric Association’s annual Congressional Advocacy Conference on September 9-11, 2013.
This conference is not only intended for AOA Officials and AOSA Trustees and National Liaisons – everyone is welcomed and strongly encouraged to attend this annual conference. AOA-PAC student members will once again enjoy free lodging at the JW Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue next to the White House. It is recommended to fly into
Reagan National Airport, or to perhaps save some money, fly into Baltimore/Washington International Airport and take the train to DC. All attendees will learn how to lobby legislators before getting knee-deep in the language of legislation at the capitol on Wednesday, September 11. Often a few House and/or Senate Bills will be a focal point for attendees, however, optometry has roots in all bills related to healthcare. We will lobby congressmen for their sponsorship for various bills with ties to optometry. In some cases, we will strengthen the existing healthy relationship with legislators during our time in D.C.
The profession of an optometric physician falls under the umbrella of primary healthcare provider, however, in most cases legislators are unaware of the scope of our practice. This conference is a perfect opportunity to inform legislators of any and all aspects of optometry, as well as the profession’s importance for the overall well-being of Americans. Many legislators are unaware of the gap that exists between what we are educated and trained to do for patients versus what we are legally allowed to do for patients. This is the time to express our excitement and optometric knowledge to all elected officials to maximize our scope of practice and expand our access to and responsibility for patients.
In order to continue to push this important profession forward, we must all collect our voices in DC for the betterment of our optometric students, physicians, and patients from the west coast to the east. This conference sustains optometry for both the present and future, and we must all harness the opportunity at hand in a joint effort to advocate for our profession.
Here is 5 minute short film you are about watch features some of the biggest names in organized optometry and it looks deep into the hearts and minds of optometrists and optometry students. It was filmed last year at the Advocacy Meeting.