WASHINGTON―The American Academy of Ophthalmology is honoring nine members of Congress whose legislative efforts are helping to preserve patient access to quality medical eye care. The Academy is presenting its 2017 Visionary Awards to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.; Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.; Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif.; Rep. Peter Roskam, R-lll.; and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.
The Academy presents its Visionary Award each year in conjunction with its annual legislative visit to Capitol Hill. This honor recognizes federal legislators for important efforts to advocate for enhancing and preserving access to quality eye care in the United States.
Sens. Collins and McCaskill have worked to ensure continued access to compounded and repackaged medications. These are treatments administered by ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – to patients who suffer from wet age-related macular degeneration and other sight-threatening diseases. Sens. Collins and McCaskill are also prominent investigators of sudden drug price increases that compromise patient access.
Sen. Schumer and Reps. DeGette and Sinema were instrumental in a joint effort in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to compel the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reconsider adopting a flawed Medicare Part B drug demonstration. If adopted, CMS’ proposal would have jeopardized Medicare patients’ access to critical eye care treatments.
Sen. Grassley and Reps. Roskam and Lewis used their Medicare oversight roles to ensure the sustainability of ophthalmology in rural communities. They pressured CMS into reconsidering a severe Medicare reimbursement rate cut for glaucoma and retinal detachment procedures. Their efforts preserved the continued availability of these sight-threatening treatments that disproportionately impact minority and rural communities across the country.
Rep. Matsui is leading efforts to improve the federal program that governs the use of electronic health records for Medicare patients. Her work ensures that physicians have fewer administrative barriers that distract from their interactions with their patients.
“The nation’s ophthalmologists are proud of our congressional lawmakers who are working to ensure that patients in every community have timely access to critical treatments for eye diseases,” said Cynthia A. Bradford, M.D., president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The Academy is committed to fostering these partnerships within Congress to ensure that our patients can receive the highest-quality medical and surgical eye care.”
The Academy is the leading voice for the profession of ophthalmology in Washington. The organization takes an active role in working with Congress and government agencies on policy issues that affect how medical and surgical care is provided in the United States.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit www.aao.org.