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
Arkansass Third District by 58%. Dr. Boozmans 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 were 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. Boozmans
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 weve 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
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