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ODs earn $1 billion under Medicare

October 7, 2013

Optometrists for the first time earned more than $1 billion in reimbursements under Medicare during 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Complete 2012 data on the number of optometrists providing services under Medicare, the number of Medicare patients seen that year, or the total number of services provided by them is not yet available. However, the CMS estimates 32,404 optometrists saw Medicare patients during 2011, and more than 11 million services were performed by those optometrists under Medicare that year.

“More than ever, it is evident that AOA’s two-decade battle to win full inclusion of optometrists in Medicare was well worth the effort,” said AOA Federal Relations Committee Chair Roger Jordan, O.D. “Recognition of optometrists as physicians under Medicare – as well as subsequent recognition of optometrists as providers of medical eye care under other public and private health plans – has clearly resulted in increased revenues that have helped to maintain the economic viability of optometric practices across the nation.”

More importantly it has helped to ensure access to a full range of primary eye care for the nation’s rapidly growing older adult population, Dr. Jordan said.

“These figures clearly demonstrate how important optometrists are today as providers of eye health services,” Dr. Jordan said. The vast majority of Medicare reimbursement to optometrists comes from medical eye care rather than eyewear, which is still covered by Medicare under very limited circumstances, he noted.

The data was released last month as the CMS celebrated the 50th anniversary of Medicare this summer.

“The landmark data announced by the CMS last month illustrates the importance of AOA efforts to ensure optometrists are included in all public and private health programs,” Dr. Jordan said. “Current efforts to ensure optometrists will see patients as part of accountable care organizations or under health insurance marketplace plans could in the not too distant future provide just as important as the association’s efforts to ensure optometry’s participation in Medicare.”

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