AOA Washington office staff member earns accolades in IowaJune 1, 2013
The Iowa Optometric Association honored Rodney Peele, J.D., the AOA Advocacy Group’s assistant director of regulatory policy and outreach, with its Distinguished Service Award last month. The award recognized Peele’s work in changing the payment policies of a major Midwestern Medicare contractor that had wrongly denied reimbursement to thousands of optometrists across a nine-state area.
Wisconsin Physician Services (WPS) — the Medicare administrative contractor in charge of physician payment for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin — in October withdrew a restrictive local coverage policy in the face of pressure brought by a broad coalition of AOA leaders, state affiliates and even pro-optometry leaders in Congress—all organized by Peele and the AOA Washington office staff (see AOA News, November).
Federal law requires Medicare to cover services provided by doctors of optometry within their state-defined scopes of practice. However, WPS had begun denying claims from Medicare beneficiaries based on a limited interpretation of optometric scope of practice, developed by the carrier’s own staff.
Had the WPS policy been allowed to stand, it likely would have been adopted by other Medicare carriers across the nation, effectively denying access to optometric care for millions of older Americans, AOA Advocacy Group staff notes.
“I was surprised and humbled by this award,” Peele said after receiving the honor during the IOA’s 115th Annual Congress in Des Moines. “I am very happy to be honored, and very happy to work on Medicare issues with doctors of optometry in Iowa. The optometrists do the hard work, the important work, providing high-quality patient care. I am just delighted that AOA, the entire AOA Washington office team, was able to help ensure that Medicare patients can continue to get eye care from our well-trained members who are often the only eye doctors available in many parts of the state.”
The effort to overturn the WPS coverage policy is a good example of how the AOA and its state affiliates work together to benefit optometrists at the state, regional and national levels, Peele said after the meeting.
As AOA assistant director of regulatory policy and outreach, Peele’s primary focus is to direct association interaction with federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which oversees Medicare. In that capacity, Peele advocates for federal health care policy that affects how AOA members practice and get paid. He is a registered lobbyist and is on the staff of the AOA Federal Relations Committee.
Peele, whose parents were both doctors, was born in Washington, D.C. His upbringing ignited a passion in him for the health care industry and, more specifically, health care law and policy. He studied engineering before receiving his undergraduate degree in mathematics and philosophy from Duke University, where he also received a prestigious Senior Leadership Award.
After spending several years as a sportswriter in northern Virginia, Peele went to work for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) for 12 years, first as a writer for APMA’s member publications, and then as a lobbyist for podiatry’s legislative and regulatory interests. While working full time for the APMA, Peele attended law school at night, graduating with honors from the American University’s Washington College of Law.
For more information on federal advocacy, contact the AOA Washington office team at 800-365-2219 or ImpactWashingtonDC@aoa.org.