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  • AMA to Tackle Low-Vision Aid Coverage, EHR Advertising

    The American Medical Association’s policy arm is addressing an issue that affects our profession: insurance coverage and adequate funding for low-vision aids for patients with visual disabilities.

    The AMA’s House of Delegates voted earlier this month to support legislative and regulatory action on the issue, with the belief this is an essential step toward ensuring access to these devices.

    The House of Delegates also is supporting an effort to better understand the effects and ethics of direct-to-physician point-of-care advertising, including ads in electronic health record systems.

    Low-Vision Aid Coverage

    After changes were made, a resolution was ultimately supported by the Academy and the Ophthalmology Section Council, whose members include the American Society of Retina Specialists, the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

    The resolution calls on the AMA to support legislative and regulatory actions promoting coverage for low-vision aids, examples of which include stand and hand-held magnifiers, strong magnifying reading glasses, loupes and small telescopes. Although many of these items are reasonably priced, others can be more complex and costly to patients.

    Advertising in Electronic Health Records

    To counter the growing presence of pharmaceutical advertising in EHRs, the House of Delegates affirmed that the AMA should study the effect of this practice on physician prescribing, patient safety, health care costs and EHR access for small practices.

    The Ophthalmology Section considered both the positives — how advertising provides information to practitioners and potentially lowers costs of EHR systems — as well as the negatives, namely the potential for influencing prescribing patterns.

    Ophthalmology’s Growing Impact With the AMA

    The House of Delegates’ 2019 interim meeting is the most emphatic demonstration to date of the Academy’s growing influence within the AMA power structure. Academy member Lyle Thorstenson, MD, of Texas, chairs the board of directors of the AMA’s powerful federal political action committee, AMPAC. Meanwhile, ophthalmologist Grayson W. Armstrong, MD, MPH, chief resident at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, joined the AMA Board of Trustees in June 2019. David H. Aizuss, MD, a California Academy member and California Medical Association immediate past president is a candidate for election to the AMA Board of Trustees in June 2020.