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  • Does it seem like the United States is waging a war against doctors? How many times have you heard that doctors make way too much money, we are greedy, and we are the reason that health care costs are spiraling out of control? Doctors used to be revered and respected in the community. Now we are all too often the scapegoats, the pariahs – all too eager to superfluously bill patients and insurance companies to fill our pockets.
    As ophthalmologists, our passion and mission is to save and restore vision, as well as preventing blindness. We are dedicated to our patients’ sight. There are not many professions as noble. Every day we have a clear objective – work hard to improve the lives of our patients. It is imperative for us to stand up and defend our profession and our livelihood.

    When I joined private practice in Tucson, one of the partners recommended that I join the Arizona Ophthalmological Society, which I did. I eventually went on the serve on the board and then as president of the society. For over 10 years, I have served as the Carrier Advisory Committee representative. In this capacity, I am the ophthalmology representative for the state of Arizona on the committee that assists our Medicare carrier, Noridian, to review and formulate policy. By forging a strong relationship with the Noridian medical director over my tenure, I’ve helped answer questions regarding ophthalmology policy. Likewise, I have been able to effectively highlight problems with current policy or policy in development.

    A little over a year ago, I was asked to join the Academy’s Health Policy Committee. Our committee helps develop and defend ophthalmologic policies, and advocate for fair payment. At my first meeting, I was very impressed by the knowledge and dedication of the other committee members. I have a lot to learn. Although all specialties in medicine have taken significant cuts in payment, we have fared much better than most. I am convinced it is due to the hard work and dedication of this committee. They are fighting every day to defend our profession and our livelihood from unfair policy and pay cuts. I am proud to serve on this committee.

    I am very busy. We all are. I am married and have two daughters. Moreover, three years ago I “bucked the trend” and started my own private practice. Yes, I am a little crazy! I think it is important for my daughters to see me practice what I preach. I tell them that it is important to voice your opinion and defend what is important to you.

    It is important to me to advocate for my profession, as well as my patients. By participating in the Health Policy Committee, and the Carrier Advisory Committee, I believe I am making a difference. We can all make a difference.

    Kristin Carter, MD, is an ophthalmologist in Tucson, Ariz.