Hopping calls for unity during time of change

July 27, 2012

The Supreme Court’s health care law decision heralds the way for dramatic health care reform in the nation, AOA President Ronald Hopping, O.D., MPH, said in his address to the AOA House of Delegates last month.

“Yet throughout all these revolutionary changes, I firmly believe optometry will continue to be a valuable and essential contributor to our nation’s health – and I mean all areas of optometry: vision and eye health care, vision therapy, vision rehab, vision enhancement,” Dr. Hopping said. “Optometry provides the overwhelming amount of eye care in this country, and the demographics of our nation’s population are clear. As our nation ages, even more optometric services will be needed.”

As changes occur, the AOA remains committed to assuring patients’ access to care and that ODs are paid fairly and equally for equal care, equal service, and equal responsibility.

“Change is very uncomfortable, and yet our profession must anticipate these changes as best as possible,” he said. “I promise you, the AOA will continue to take its role as scout and advocate for our profession very seriously. Most of the time the AOA has been remarkably good at anticipating change – and we have had astounding success over many decades, and frankly, sometimes we have missed the mark. But in all cases we did the best we could with the resources we had. Most importantly, we kept optometry and our patients as our primary concern. No one else watches out for my profession, for our profession. I promise you the AOA will continue to keep optometry and our patients first.”

Dr. Hopping called on members to decide if the AOA should be a proactive or reactive association.

“Will we be proactive – do you want us to try to anticipate change as best as possible and prepare for that change, or will we be reactive – will we let the world do what it does and then try to adapt?” he asked. “Our history is full of examples when optometry had hard and difficult discussions on the correct path to take. We were a proactive profession when we went for the use of diagnostic drugs even though many optometrists held firmly to our being a drugless profession and quit and went home. We were proactive when we went for the use of therapeutic drugs, even though many didn’t want to make that uncomfortable change.”

Board certification is another area in which the profession is proactive.

“I know this is a very sensitive issue in our profession, and only time will tell how necessary that painful experience was. But as our world around us continues to change, it is even more clear today, in 2012, that without recognized, and voluntary, board certification, optometry will be treated, and paid, as second-class citizens in the new world of health care. We are the first-class citizens of vision and eye health care – and optometry must participate in our nation’s health care as first-class citizens…

“Throughout our history we have had many serious disagreements in our profession, and we will have more. In our hundred-plus years, some discussions have, in fact, been more difficult than our recent discussion. But historically, at the end of the day, after the discussions, the passion, the disagreements, and the votes, we all realized we are one family and we all moved on, and forward, together.

“As we move forward we must constantly remember that not only are we one family – we are a small family, a small profession. Compared to the rest of the health care world we are very small in numbers. Yes, we’re big in heart and essential to health care, but we are small in numbers. Optometry has only been successful, and optometry has been very successful, because after our disagreements we all joined together. In writing our future, we will only continue to be successful if we all contribute and work together. We are too small to succeed otherwise,” he said.

Dr. Hopping encouraged further discussion on AOAConnect.

“I know discussion may lead to agreement or disagreement and either is good for our association. But, discussion is only good if it is educated, is honest, and with the best interest of the entire profession in our hearts.”

Visit connect.aoa.org to join in.

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