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    What you missed at AOA 2017

     Andrea Thau, O.D. and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL) attend the American Optometric Association on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for American Optometric Association)

    AOA visits Capitol Hill

    Washington, DC—Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and the Chair of the House Republican Conference Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) joined more than 2,300 optometry students during a rally on Capitol Hill on June 21 during the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Optometry’s Meeting.

    During the rally and in more than 250 meetings and events with Senators, House members, and staff, AOA member doctors and students urged Senators and House members to:

    • Support the bi-partisan Dental and Optometric Care Access Act (HR 1606), also known as the DOC Access Act. The AOA and American Dental Association-backed legislation would empower doctors and patients in their dealings with insurance plans, eliminate a growing number of anti-competitive practices in health care, and help improve overall quality of patient care. The bill was introduced in March 2017 by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA).View of the rally for the American Optometric Association on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for American Optometric Association)

    • Vote to eliminate the health insurance industry's anti-trust exemption with the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act (HR 372). The bill would authorize the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Justice Department to “enforce the federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct.” The legislation, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (R-AZ), passed the House in March 2017 by a vote of 416-7.

    Related: ODs must embrace new technologies, says AOA panel

    • Prevent the FTC from implementing a proposal, developed under the previous administration, that would impose new paperwork burdens on doctors and patients while failing to address the predatory practices of online contact lens sellers that have the potential to harm patients and increase healthcare costs. This week, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) rolled out a bipartisan letter demanding that the FTC abandon this proposal.

    • Uphold existing laws that assure access to in-person, comprehensive eye examinations, including essential pediatric eye health coverage and a ban on discrimination by ERISA and other plans.

    "This week, doctors of optometry are making a difference in how elected officials, employers, the media and the public view our profession," says AOA President Andrea Thau. “Patient eye health is currently under threat by special-interest groups with a fiercely anti-optometry agenda. This is the time for all AOA doctors and students to speak out together for our practices and our patients.”

    While in the nation’s capital, expanding veterans’ access to timely, quality eye and vision care was discussed at a roundtable. Participants included Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), the Blinded Veterans Association, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Armed Forces Optometric Society, and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO).

    Up next: ICO earns bragging rights in Essilor Optometry Student Bowl

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