Universal Health Care and Optometry- Update

Hey everyone out there. This message has been forwarded to my SUNY Optometry school e-mail and it is regarding how optometry students can act to make sure that Optometry has a positive and secure future.

Sorry for the quick message. Midterms are keeping me way to busy to post at the moment, but this is a really crucial and important message I must relay. I thank Jon Hymes, AOA Washington Office Director graciously for seeing that the message got to SUNY Students.


DATE: October 15, 2009

FROM:  Jon Hymes, AOA Washington Office Director

Background: The AOA continues to stand up to organized medicine and the insurance industry by insisting that provider non-discrimination safeguards must be a foundation for any health care reform bill that advances in Congress.  Health insurers should not be given a new chance to restrict patient access to essential eye health care.  On September 23, 2009, during consideration of its version of health care reform legislation (HR 3200), the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved the AOA-backed Ross Patient Access to Care Amendment which blocks pre-emption or weakening of state patient choice / provider non-discrimination laws.

Latest Development: U.S. House leaders are holding closed-door discussions aimed at re-shaping HR 3200 and determining the final form of the bill for consideration on the House floor later this month or in early November.  To ensure that the Ross Patient Access to Care Amendment — which continues to be strongly opposed by the organized medicine and the insurance industry — is not removed from the bill, Reps. Mike Ross (D-AR), Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Martin Heirich (D-NM), pro-optometry leaders in Congress, have drafted a “sign-on” letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi specifically to urge that the Ross Patient Access to Care Amendment be retained in HR 3200.  Without a sufficient number of Congressional co-signers on the letter to the Speaker indicating a high level of support on the provider non-discrimination issue, the Ross amendment may be removed from the House health care reform bill prior to floor consideration.

Optometrists Take Action: Please immediately contact your representative in the U.S. House, Rep. , and request that they co-sign the Rep. Ross’s Letter to Speaker Pelosi in support of the Ross Patient Access to Care Amendment in order to safeguard state patient choice / provider non-discrimination laws.

Please call Rep.  through the U.S. Capitol switchboard – 202-225-3121 — to deliver the following message:

* I am an optometrist providing primary eye care services in (your hometown) and other local communities, and a member of the American Optometric Association.

* It has taken the enactment of legislation in virtually every state to force health plans to stop restricting access to care for patients in need of the range of essential health care services, including the vision and medical eye care I provide [please describe non-discrimination laws you helped pass in your state]. In the past, Congress 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.

* Last month, the Energy and Commerce Committee recognized that without the Ross Patient Access to Care Amendment, the House health care reform bill (HR 3200) would pre-empt our state’s patient choice / provider non-discrimination laws and allow health insurers to once again restrict access to the care optometrists like me provide.
*To ensure that the insurance industry lobby is not successful in their anti-patient efforts to remove the Ross Patient Access to Care Amendment, I want to request that my congressman immediately co-sign Rep. Mike Ross’s letter to Speaker Pelosi which supports making provider non-discrimination safeguards a building block for true health care reform.
* Please let me know if the congressman will take a stand in support of patient access to care at this critical moment in the debate over national health care reform.   Thank you.

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