Association reports AOA-PAC played key role in mid-term election

The American Optometric Association announced a historic victory in the Senate race in Arkansas and outlined plans to promote optometry in health care reform provisions and expanded patient access through the Harkin Amendment, during a conference call with reporters.

According to the AOA, its political action committee (PAC) raised the greatest amount in its history to support the campaigns of 363 political candidates, 329 of whom were victorious. The nearly $2 million contributed by AOA members saw a 90% success rate for the investment, with a “freshman class” in Congress that consists of 75 newly elected members.

The most groundbreaking victory for the AOA was Rep. John Boozman, OD, who defeated two-term incumbent Blanche Lincoln for the Senate seat in Arkansas’s Third District by 58%. Dr. Boozman’s victory marks a milestone for optometry; in the history of the United States, there has never been an optometrist serving in the U.S. Senate, Joe E. Ellis, OD, AOA president, said in the conference call.

“There have been many successes politically in the last election, but we’re especially proud of this historic victory in Arkansas,” Dr. Ellis told reporters. “The AOA-PAC, hundreds of optometrists in Arkansas and thousands from around the country actively backed Dr. Boozman’s campaign ... and we made a difference.”

With the turbulent political landscape concerning health care reform, Dr. Ellis said the AOA intends to fight for full recognition of optometry in health care plans by working with third-party advocates on the state level. This integration would emphasize the role of optometry in primary care and include optometric doctor searches, comprehensive eye exams and treatment embedded into health care plans.

On the heels of the recent election, the AOA will be concentrating its efforts to safeguard the patient access gain acquired through the Harkin Amendment and work to promote the other AOA-backed provisions such as defining vision care for children as an essential health benefit. The AOA is also working with a broad coalition of national physician and patient organizations to implement a short-term physician payment patch to address the 23% Medicare payment cut scheduled for Dec. 1 and the 6.5% cut scheduled for Jan. 1.

“Our country has a lot to be concerned about with the Medicare issue. This short-term payment patch will be the third one we’ve had in 2010,” Dr. Ellis said. “The national debt was talked about many times in the past election, and obviously this is a matter that needs to be looked into.”

Dr. Ellis and members of the AOA will continue to work with affiliate leaders to address the concerns and answer the questions of the new members on Capitol Hill to strengthen the pro-access, pro-patient message to these new policy makers. — by Stephanie Vasta

The American Optometric Association announced a historic victory in the Senate race in Arkansas and outlined plans to promote optometry in health care reform provisions and expanded patient access through the Harkin Amendment, during a conference call with reporters.

According to the AOA, its political action committee (PAC) raised the greatest amount in its history to support the campaigns of 363 political candidates, 329 of whom were victorious. The nearly $2 million contributed by AOA members saw a 90% success rate for the investment, with a “freshman class” in Congress that consists of 75 newly elected members.

The most groundbreaking victory for the AOA was Rep. John Boozman, OD, who defeated two-term incumbent Blanche Lincoln for the Senate seat in Arkansas’s Third District by 58%. Dr. Boozman’s victory marks a milestone for optometry; in the history of the United States, there has never been an optometrist serving in the U.S. Senate, Joe E. Ellis, OD, AOA president, said in the conference call.

“There have been many successes politically in the last election, but we’re especially proud of this historic victory in Arkansas,” Dr. Ellis told reporters. “The AOA-PAC, hundreds of optometrists in Arkansas and thousands from around the country actively backed Dr. Boozman’s campaign ... and we made a difference.”

With the turbulent political landscape concerning health care reform, Dr. Ellis said the AOA intends to fight for full recognition of optometry in health care plans by working with third-party advocates on the state level. This integration would emphasize the role of optometry in primary care and include optometric doctor searches, comprehensive eye exams and treatment embedded into health care plans.

On the heels of the recent election, the AOA will be concentrating its efforts to safeguard the patient access gain acquired through the Harkin Amendment and work to promote the other AOA-backed provisions such as defining vision care for children as an essential health benefit. The AOA is also working with a broad coalition of national physician and patient organizations to implement a short-term physician payment patch to address the 23% Medicare payment cut scheduled for Dec. 1 and the 6.5% cut scheduled for Jan. 1.

“Our country has a lot to be concerned about with the Medicare issue. This short-term payment patch will be the third one we’ve had in 2010,” Dr. Ellis said. “The national debt was talked about many times in the past election, and obviously this is a matter that needs to be looked into.”

Dr. Ellis and members of the AOA will continue to work with affiliate leaders to address the concerns and answer the questions of the new members on Capitol Hill to strengthen the pro-access, pro-patient message to these new policy makers. — by Stephanie Vasta