Optometry Needs You!

To all you optometry students out there, here is a REALLY easy way to make a difference for the future of optometry, it will literally take you 2 minutes at most.

All of those e-mail’s we have been getting from the AOA about health care reform have been urging us to contact congress by phone or e-mail in order to relay a very important message. The message is that Optometry should be treated fairly under any health care legislation that advances in Congress, particularly with regard to patient access, re-imbursement and full recognition in Federal health programs.

If the field of optometry gets overlooked when this legislation is passed, the career of optometry that you know and love could be completely changed, for the worse!

So just follow these 3 quick steps and your message will help make a difference for the future of optometry. I know finals are REALLY important but the profession that you are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for and putting years of time and energy into, may be severely hurt if you don’t voice your opinion.

Step 1: Go to this website, choose your home state from the drop down menu and click the web form link any senator of your state.

Step 2: Paste the message (created by the AOA) into the body of the form. The message is just below.

Step 3: Click SEND

That is all you have to do.

Below this line is the message to copy and paste.


To whom this may concern,

I’m an optometry student who is currently learning how to provide primary eye and vision care services for children, working adults and seniors in our local communities.

I’m proud to know that I will be a key access point for care for my future patients and that I will play a major role in the overall health of my patients by detecting and helping to prevent complications of systemic diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, neurologic disease and diabetes, the leading cause of acquired blindness.    However, as I watch the debate in the Senate, it’s a concern that some health groups and even some insurance companies are claiming that they know what’s best for doctors and patients and apparently want to speak for my colleagues and me.

It’s taken the enactment of legislation in most states to force health plans to stop restricting access to care for patients in need of the range of essential health care services provided by doctors of optometry and other providers on the frontline of care locally.  Congress, too, has recognized that health plans harm patients when they discriminate on the basis of licensure and included a specific provider non-discrimination safeguard in Medicare Part C.

With tens of millions of Americans lacking health insurance, expanding coverage must come with the assurance that patients have access to the quality health care services they need, when and where they need them.   Health care reform legislation must promote consumer choice and provider competition, while reducing costs, by ensuring that patient access to care is not limited by the very same health plans that have shown Congress and the American people the extent to which they will go to restrict access to local providers like me.

I’m pleased to see that the Senate bill contains patient choice / provider non-discrimination safeguards.  As the debate continues, I request that you support patient access to essential optometric care and that you work to make patient choice / provider non-discrimination safeguards a foundation for true health care reform.

History and the laws of most states tell us that health plans must never again have the ability to restrict access to whole categories of qualified health care professionals based on licensure alone.  Patients need and deserve more choice, not less.  Patients need and deserve greater access to providers of quality care, not less.

Thank you for your time and concern.


This is the current situation going on with Optometry and Health Care Reform. This was sent to us by the AOA.

BACKGROUND: The Senate is now debating and considering amendments to its version of national health care reform legislation.   The bill seeks to expand health insurance coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans at a cost of $850 billion.

It’s clear that there are improvements that need to be made to the Senate bill.  It’s also clear that groups opposed to Optometry – especially insurers and organized medicine  – are more active than ever on Capitol Hill pushing their own priorities which seek to restrict access to optometric care and limit the type of care optometrists provide.   That’s why it’s essential that ODs, students and patients take action to help ensure that Optometry will be treated fairly under any health care legislation that advances in Congress, particularly with regard to patient access, re-imbursement and full recognition in Federal health programs.

Last month, at the urging of the AOA, the U.S. House approved AOA-backed Ross Amendment (to ensure non-pre-emption of state patient protection / provider non-discrimination laws) and the AOA-backed Schakowsky Amendment (to recognize ODs as physicians in Medicaid).    These were notable wins for the profession, but with a House-Senate conference that will produce a final health care bill still to come, likely in January, they are not yet final victories.

LATEST DEVELOPMENT: In spite of an aggressive lobbying campaign by the insurance industry earlier this year, the Senate’s current bill, developed by Majority Leader Harry Reid, includes AOA-backed language that would make provider non-discrimination safeguards a key element of reform.   Now, a national coalition of medical and surgery groups has mobilized and is actively working to strip this provision before a final Senate vote, likely before the end of this month.   Over the last few days, these nineteen groups, which claiming to represent more than 240,000 surgeons and anesthesiologists from across the country, have formally joined together to contact Senator Reid and other Senate leaders to state their specific opposition to the provider non-discrimination safeguards in the bill and demand its removal.  They claim that “[t]he so-called non-discrimination in health care provision…would create patient confusion over greatly differing levels of education, skills and training among health care professionals while inappropriately interjecting civil rights concepts into state scope of practice laws.”

The AOA, with the involvement of individual ODs, students and patients from across the country, has worked – successfully, to this point – to overcome this type of opposition to make provider non-discrimination (that is, protections in the law to prevent insurers from restricting patient choice and access) a top priority in the Washington, DC debate over health care.   With the endgame underway, every OD must step up to counter all the late and dishonest misinformation we can expect from organized medicine and insurers.   At this critical moment, Optometry must speak out in support of its priorities with a unified and resolute voice.

The AOA Advocacy Group urges, every concerned OD, student and patient (the draft letter can be adapted) to use the AOA Online Legislative Action Center to send an urgent message to your two U.S. Senators.

American Optometric Association, 1505 Prince Street Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314 United States

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