Here’s an excellent example of the strength we have as a collective group of optometry students, OD’s, legislators and the American Optometric Association (AOA) as a whole. As mentioned in a previous article, the AOA was listed as one of the top ten most influential lobbying groups in Washington D.C. (http://newsfromaoa.org/2012/07/13/survey-of-dc-insiders-places-aoa-on-lobbyings-top-10-list/)! This has been clearly on display as the Harkin Law, which was enacted in 2010 and will take effect in 2014, has repeatedly come under fire by the American Medical Association (AMA), whose efforts have been rebuffed each time.
The AMA has been mobilizing to repeal the Harkin Law for some time now. As a quick reminder, the Harkin Law ensures that services provided by optometrists are given full recognition by health care plans, and in turn patients full access to their local doctors. Health insurers will not be able to discriminate in terms of plan coverage against health care providers such as optometrists who are working under their certified, full scope of practice.
I took a look at the actual AMA document report (http://newsfromaoa.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/i12-bot-report-08.pdf) by their board of trustees, where they outline their reasons and plans of repealing the Harkin Law. Due to their lack of success going against the AOA in the past, they acknowledge that the AOA is a formidable presence and it will be a trying challenge. The AMA states that (FYI Section 2706 pertains to the Harkin Law), “it must be recognized that the supporters of section 2706 are, in themselves, a significant political force,” and that there is, “little interest by potential champions in Congress to put themselves between two powerful health care constituencies.”
Here’s another link to the story in Primary Care Optometry News: http://www.healio.com/optometry/regulatory-legislative/news/print/primary-care-optometry-news/%7BD26965EE-D29A-479C-9F32-FDFB2A3FEEB2%7D/AMA-resolves-to-campaign-to-repeal-Harkin-patient-access-law. (You may need a username and password, but it’s free and a great resource!)
Be proud of the profession you are or will be working in, and realize that the unwavering support you have to further its advancement is there, but that YOU too should be a part of it!