• 2020 Federal Advocacy Agenda: Dire Physician Payment Landscape Leads 2020 Legislative Priorities


    Academy leaders convened with representatives from 21 ophthalmology subspecialty and stakeholder organizations last month to develop a strategic approach to our 2020 advocacy. That work forms the backbone of our agenda this year, including Congressional Advocacy Day in April. We’ll update our progress throughout 2020.

    The Academy is facing a challenging political environment in which to secure policy changes that will benefit ophthalmologists. Because 2020 is an election year, lawmakers are generally reticent to provide legislative wins that the other party can tout. But because Congress’ agenda this spring also includes several must-pass, high-dollar health care initiatives, our issues fit into these sweeping legislative packages. It’s all about convincing lawmakers that it is in their best interests to act on ophthalmologists’ needs. 

    Our strategic interests will evolve, but right now the Academy is focused on:

    1. Improving physician payment in Medicare
    2. Mitigating drug shortages and preserving access to ophthalmic treatments
    3. Preventing federal scope-of-practice expansion 
    1. Improving physician payment in Medicare
      Physician payment is paramount to what you do. It helps you pay your staff and ensures you’re able to run a sustainable business and see more patients. The existing payment landscape is complicated and worrisome for our profession. In addressing physician payment, we’re taking on the following issues:
    • E/M payment equity through the application of planned increases to post-operative visits
    • Prior authorization reform and step therapy, two costly administrative requirements that eat up your practice’s time and resources. Right now, Congress can act on legislation that would limit Medicare Advantage plans’ abusive use of prior authorization. And we continue to seek your patient stories that document the dangers of step therapy to our patients.
    • A physician pay increase. Right now, your pay is frozen for the next six years, the result of an expired provision that provided short-term stability to physician reimbursements following the adoption of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. We’re working to extend MACRA updates to provide you with the revenue you need to grow and sustain your practice. 
    1. Mitigating drug shortages and preserving access to ophthalmic treatments

    Drug shortages hit our profession hard in 2019. We’re going to continue promoting legislative and regulatory solutions that can help prevent future disruptions. The Academy will comment on forthcoming regulations from the Food and Drug Administration related to drug shortages. We’re also mustering support for the Mitigating Emergency Drug Shortages (MEDS) Act, legislation in the U.S. Senate that would help address persistent drug shortages that plague ophthalmology. 

    1. Preventing federal scope-of-practice expansion

    Optometry has amassed a massive PAC war chest at the federal level for a potential scope-of-practice battle in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. We’re prepared to go to the mat for veterans who deserve the best eye care. If the VA allows optometrists to perform laser surgery, it will lower the high standards that our veterans deserve. 

    Make a Difference in 2020 as an Active Advocate

    You can do several things to ensure the success of our federal efforts. A little travel, time or financial support can go a long way to helping our work.

    • Help Deliver Ophthalmology’s Message to Congress at Mid-Year Forum 2020

      Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., need to understand how health policy affects patient care. Help deliver this important message alongside more than 400 of your fellow ophthalmologists at one of the Academy’s most important meetings, Mid-Year Forum 2020. This event, held April 22-25, is your best opportunity to learn about the cornerstones of the business of ophthalmology: politics, policy and practice management.
    • Build a Bridge to Congress with an OPHTHPAC Contribution

      The Academy is fighting to ensure fair value for the work you do on behalf of patients, but we need your help. Make an immediate OPHTHPAC® contribution so that when Congress is asked to address this issue in the spring, we’re well-positioned to secure the changes we need. To contribute, visit aao.org/ophthpac and click “join” or text AAO2020 to 41444.

    OPHTHPAC Chair on Why 2020 Is So Important to Every U.S. Ophthalmologist

    The chair of the Academy’s OPHTHPAC political action committee sees the year 2020 as more than a symbolic appreciation of what ophthalmologists do. In a new blog post, Jeff S. Maltzman, MD, urges every U.S. ophthalmologist to take a personal interest in protecting our profession’s viability in the face of myriad federal challenges.