AOA issues statement on Vision Plans and Health Care Reform

February 11, 2012



For Release:  Saturday, February 11, 2012

I’m proud of our colleagues in California and around the country who are standing up to the latest effort by an outside group intent on seizing permanent control over how we deliver care for our patients.  Only optometrists can truly advocate for optometry.

The AOA and our affiliates have long fostered a well-deserved and hard-earned reputation for honest, ethical advocacy, and we have acheived historic gains in patient access and scope of practice as a result.  Through our relentless efforts in Washington, DC and state capitals, health care policy makers now view optometry as an essential part of the future of health care delivery.  But, our profession’s future stands to be severely compromised if we allow profit-driven private corporations to define our role in health care as simply providers of refractions, glasses, and contact lenses. 

I understand the important role that vision plans have played in many of our practices over the past 20 years.  However, many vision plans are continuing to resist the legislative, regulatory and marketplace changes that the AOA has been confronting head-on since the health care reform debate began.  Since their resistance threatens our future, I’m urging companies that administer vision plans to work with us by taking the following steps to help optometry deliver improved eye health and vision care in the era of health care and payment reform:

1)   Vision plans must agree with the AOA that a comprehensive eye exam should be a benefit in every American’s health insurance plan.

2)   Vision plans must acknowledge that they can participate in state health insurance exchanges by contracting with qualified health plans.

3)   Vision plans must always utilize optometrists to provide care to the full extent of their scope of practice and training.

4)   Vision plans must commit to supporting the same path and opportunities for participation in medical plan credentialing for ODs that exists for MDs.

5)      Vision plans must provide equal alignment between ODs and MDs for payment parity, assuring that reimbursement levels are defined by procedure code and not licensure.

This is our pathway to success. Advancing as a united front guided by these principles will ensure we all emerge from this debate stronger and in the best position to do what we do best – provide outstanding patient care. I will keep AOA members informed about how vision plans respond.

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