• 3 Ways YOs Can Matter in Federal Affairs

    “Be brief and amazing,” someone once said. “But if you can’t be both, be brief.”

    In the interest of brevity, here are my three concise takeaways from the Academy’s Jan. 22 Secretariat of Federal Affairs meeting. The panel met to consider changes in federal regulations and health care policies that affect ophthalmologists.

    1. Stand up for our patients and profession. Participate in the Academy’s Mid-Year Forum, including Congressional Advocacy Day, April 6-9, in Washington, D.C. By advocating for our patients and profession and by speaking to representatives in Congress, you can make a tremendous impact. Through the Advocacy Ambassador Program, the Mid-Year Forum also provides residents and fellows the unique opportunity to connect with leaders in ophthalmology and peers from across the country. When I was resident in ophthalmology I attended as an Advocacy Ambassador, and it changed the trajectory of my career. It will change yours, too. 

    2. Get in the game. Whether it be physician reimbursement, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Federal Supremacy Project, prior authorization or step therapy, YOs must stay informed and understand the issues facing ophthalmology and our patients. 

      1. Physician reimbursement is a high priority for the Academy and its Federal Affairs team. We must ensure that we as ophthalmologists are being reimbursed fairly for the work we do. The Medicare payment trend over the last 20 years is concerning, to say the least, and is at the top of our agenda at Mid-Year Forum 2022. 
      2. We must ensure that the VA’s Federal Supremacy Project does not result in scope of practice expansions for optometrists and nonphysician providers. Standing up for our Veterans, who proudly served our country, and ensuring that ophthalmic procedures, such as laser eye surgery, are only performed by ophthalmologists, is of paramount importance. 
      3. Prior authorization not only delays timely treatment of patients but is also an unnecessary administrative burden for practices. We must press Congress to enact prior authorization legislation (HR 3173/S 3018). 
      4. Step therapy, widely known as “fail first” therapy, can negatively impact treatment options for patients. We must support legislative efforts that put patient safeguards in place to optimize step therapy policies (HR 2163). 

    3. Speak up with a unified voice. The most effective and efficient way for ophthalmologists to speak with a unified voice is to support the Academy’s political action committee, OPHTHPAC®. Regardless of the size of your contribution, it will matter and have an impact. OPHTHPAC supports champions in Congress who understand the issues facing ophthalmology and patients. Legislators like Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, U.S. Congresswoman and ophthalmologist, are our voices in Congress but we must do our part by supporting advocates like her. If there are specific members of Congress who you would like to support, OPHTHPAC Direct allows you to do so. In addition, support the Surgical Scope Fund, so we can protect the sight of our patients across the country.
    About the author: Darby D. Miller, MD, MPH, is a cornea, cataract and anterior segment surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Miller is chair of the Academy’s YO Advocacy Subcommittee, a member of the Academy’s Surgical Scope Fund committee, past president of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, and a graduate of the Academy’s Leadership Development Program.