The Academy is the leading source of expert knowledge on eye health so it is critical that we share our expertise with federal and state lawmakers. Get involved and connect the dots for lawmakers between the policies they write and the work you’re doing in the field. Put a face on the healthcare system by introducing our elected leaders to the patients whose families and lives are changed by quality eye care.
Share your story
Did you know that constituents who personally communicate with their lawmakers are more influential than lobbyists and news editors? That’s what a Congressional Management Foundation survey found when it polled Congressional staff on what advocacy strategies are most effective in swaying a federal legislators’ decision. Here are effective ways to share your story with lawmakers:
- Write your federal or state lawmakers: The Academy’s online tool provides you with pre-written letters that you can email your lawmakers on issues critical to our profession.
- Become a Congressional Advocate: Volunteer to join the Academy’s national grassroots network and take a leadership role in developing a relationship with your federal lawmakers. As a Congressional Advocate you’ll receive one-on-one assistance in developing a relationship with your lawmaker, insider’s knowledge about what is happening in Washington, DC and get notified when the Academy needs your assistance in influencing the outcome of a healthcare policy.
- Join Your State Society: Your state’s ophthalmological society is on the front lines of the fight to preserve physician-led eye care, and works hard to promote legislation that can result in better eye health, like efforts to ensure surgery by surgeons, and access to early eye-drop refills.
- Come to Mid-Year Forum: Join us during one of the Academy’s most significant yearly meetings, bringing the ophthalmology community together to drive, change and shape our profession’s future. During the meeting you will join your colleagues on Capitol Hill and educate your lawmakers on issues like fair Medicare reimbursements, regulatory burden reduction, and other policies that affect the way we deliver care.
Protect our Profession
Effectively advocating for ophthalmology and our patients takes both a strong Academy and an even stronger grassroots program built on the efforts of our members. Two funds ensure that ophthalmology has a seat at the table when policies are being discussed both on the federal and state level:
- Join OPHTHPAC: Your voice in Washington, D.C. OPHTHPAC represents the profession of ophthalmology to the U.S. Congress and advocates for you, your practice and your patients. Your investment in OPHTHPAC allows us to show our collective support for members of Congress who support ophthalmology. In turn, the relationships that we build in Washington, D.C., allow us a "seat at the table" when Congress discusses legislation that will impact our profession and gives us the chance to educate our elected officials about how the actions that they take will affect our practices and our patients.
- Contribute to Surgical Scope Fund: The Surgical Scope Fund is the most effective advocacy tool to protect patient safety and quality of surgical care. By making a confidential contribution to the Academy’s Surgical Scope Fund, you help ensure that surgery remains in the hands of the physicians and surgeons who have the necessary medical education and clinical training to perform these delicate procedures. Your support demonstrates to all ophthalmologists that we share a strong commitment to Surgery by Surgeons.
Host a Political Fundraiser
It is important to get to know your elected representatives before an important issue comes up and you need their support. One of the best ways to build a relationship with congressional lawmakers is to host an in-state political fundraiser during an election. Read two different perspectives about hosting a fundraiser from Academy members Woodford Van Meter, MD, and Lee A. Snyder, MD.
Academy staff can provide guidance on which elected U.S. congressional officials and candidates are supported by the Academy’s political action committee, OPHTHPAC®. For Academy members interested in hosting a fundraiser, our staff also can assist with getting an event scheduled, creating the invitation and providing tips on how to host a successful event. OPHTHPAC can also help leverage your personal contributions by promoting your event to other physician PACs that share similar legislative concerns with the Academy.
There are no deadlines to hosting a congressional fundraiser. However, the best time to start is at least eight weeks out. Members can contact the Academy’s Washington, D.C., office at 202.737.6662 for more information and assistance.