14 April 2010

April 2010 - President's Message

This spring has certainly been very busy for health care and optometry. Last week, President Obama signed H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law. The law will be modified by H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act, which was passed by the House and the Senate. This $940 million health care reform represents the President's and his Congressional allies' historic push to extend health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans.

Our optometric community should be very proud of the historic win the AOA was able to secure with specific regard to provider non-discrimination. As many of you know, our AOA advocacy team in Washington, D.C. was able to secure the Harkin Amendment in the health care reform legislation. As reported by Matt Willette in the AOA office in DC, this "is a landmark provision sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and backed by the 36,000-member American Optometric Association (AOA) during a year-long grassroots campaign, that is designed to outlaw discrimination against optometrists and other providers by health plans, including self-insured ERISA plans."

AOA President Randy Brooks commented, "The approval of the Harkin Amendment is a tremendous victory for optometry and will likely prove to be one of the most historic advances in patient access to optometric care since the 1986 recognition of optometrists as physicians under Medicare. AOA's top priority in Washington, DC throughout this process has been to expand patient access and put a stop to the health plan discrimination we have faced for too long. Today, thanks to Senator Harkin and other 'access-to-care' leaders in Congress, organized medicine and every health plan in America, including ERISA plans, are on notice that their unfair restrictions to the full scope of eye health care we provide are ending."

Unfortunately, President Obama's bill did not solve the problem of the SGR which impacts Medicare physician reimbursement, and The Senate has adjourned for its two-week "Spring District Work Recess" without approving H.R. 4851, a short-term measure that would have extended the freeze on Medicare's current physician payment rates through April 30. Therefore, the 21.3% cut to Medicare physician payments took effect April 1.

As in similar situations in the past, it is expected that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will instruct carriers to temporarily hold claims in order to give Congress time to act.

So, while we are proud of our recent accomplishments in Washington, there is still much work to be done. I urge everyone to get involved with your federal, state and local legislators and work proactively for optometry's future. For more information on the recent health care reform, please follow the links to AOA's Web site:

OUTLINE OF HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL LEGISLATION - 3/31/10 (http://www.aoa.org/documents/HCR-Outline.pdf)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - 3/31/10 (http://www.aoa.org/documents/faqs.pdf)

MESSAGE FROM DR. BROOKS TO AOA MEMBERS - 3/24/10 (http://www.aoa.org/x5755.xml)

AOA LEADERS COMMENT ON FINAL PASSAGE VOTE - 3/21/10 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGad7ROvlsQ)



At April 16, 2010 at 10:20 AM , Blogger Fran Taylor said...

My eye doctor, Indianapolis based seem very skeptical about the current health reforms. It does seem that the enforcement of these current health law is done in a half-hearted fashion.

If you’re interested in information about optometrist, Indianapolis (IN), you can check out the links I’ve provided. Thanks and more power to Maryland Eyes!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home