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American Academy of Ophthalmology Honors U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn for Actions Promoting Healthy Vision

05/06/2013   08:30:00 AM

WASHINGTON – The American Academy of Ophthalmology today announced that it is honoring U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) for her outstanding legislative efforts toward the betterment of eye care and public access to quality health care. The Academy's Visionary Award annually honors organizations and/or members of Congress for their leadership in helping to advance the quality of eye care available to Americans.

Rep. Blackburn is an early co-sponsor of legislation (H.R. 351) that is presently being considered that would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was established by the Accountable Care Act. This House bill is intended to protect seniors' access to Medicare. To date, 161 House colleagues have joined Rep. Blackburn as cosponsors.

In addition to Rep. Blackburn's commitment to legislatively protect patients' access to vision care, she has exhibited a willingness to take on federal agencies to advocate for changes to public policy when needed. Rep. Blackburn played a key role in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) scaling back what the Academy believed would be inappropriate cuts in Medicare reimbursement for ophthalmology services when two diagnostic service codes are billed on the same day for the same patient, which might lead to patient inconvenience and access to care issues.

"Congressman Blackburn's valuable contributions to protecting Americans' access to vital ophthalmology services deserve to be recognized," said Paul Sternberg Jr., M.D., president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Board of Trustees. "Representative Blackburn has been a long-time supporter of the Academy's efforts to ensure that the legislative agenda in Washington is not disruptive to the delivery of the highest-possible quality of care for the medical and surgical treatment of eye disease. We applaud her leadership and willingness to take on federal agencies when their policies do not serve the best interest of our patients."

Past recipients of the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Vision Award include Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.).

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology — headquartered in San Francisco — is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 32,000 members worldwide.  Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. The Academy's EyeSmart® public education program works to educate the public about the importance of eye health and to empower them to preserve their healthy vision, by providing the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. Visit www.geteyesmart.org to learn more.

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