Pediatric Vision Care – An Essential Health Benefit

The politics of the optometry profession, what goes on in the news and behind the scenes, have a huge influence on the way the profession can be practiced, this among many other things.  We are lucky enough to have well organized and motivated advocates in the form of the AOA, practicing ODs and optometry students who push for certain rights and support important issues that have a direct impact on the profession.  At, we want to keep you up to date with the latest developments so you can continue to be knowledgeable, active advocates for you profession.

In November of last year, founder Matt Gellar wrote an article summarizing a major development which concerned the work of the AOA and its’ president, Dr. Dori Carlson, in Washington D.C.  It was a critical time when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was about to release their proposed essential health benefits regulations.  The AOA and other advocates wanted to be sure that comprehensive eye exams (not just basic screenings) for children were included in the pediatric vision care essential health benefit. fully covered in health insurance plans.  The details can be found in Matt Geller’s story, “AOA President Dr. Dori Carlson Delivers Message to White House.”

As 2011 came to a close, the U.S. Department of HHS released the details of its’ planned essential health care benefits proposal.  The HHS acknowledged that comprehensive eye exams should be at the center of the pediatric vision care health essential benefit, to be covered in health insurance plans!  This recognition is undoubtedly due to the hard work and advocacy of the AOA, optometrists and optometry students around the country!  While this is indeed a great victory for the optometry profession and, more importantly, the children whose vision and overall eye health will benefit from having comprehensive eye exams, the HHS did pass this down to states to determine their own specific essential health benefit packages (in accordance to HHS’s proposal).  This means that, while the AOA and other advocates did an incredible job in Washington D.C., we must stay involved on the state level.  To read more in depth about this topic, here’s a link to the article on the AOA website:

Be aware of the issues, talk with your local representative or contact the AOA to see how you can get involved!  Sometimes all it takes is an email or phone call to make a difference!

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