March 27, 2020 — In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its affect on the national economy, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has mobilized its public awareness, advocacy, and clinical resources in support of its member doctors and their practices.
Specifically, the organization issued immediate patient care guidance, ensured the recognition of optometrists as physicians in federal crisis relief legislation, and provided updated billing and coding briefings to doctors aiming to continue to provide care as the nation implements measures including the closure of schools, businesses, and institutions.
For more on specific actions, AOA President Barbara L. Horn, O.D., and AOA President-Elect William T. Reynolds, O.D., shared a letter to members.
"Together with our state associations, the AOA is fighting harder than ever for our doctors, and we will not stop," says Dr. Horn. "Although it's an uncertain time for each of us and for our patients, member doctors can and should count on the AOA to deliver critical practice support and ensure optometry's full recognition in crisis relief and the recovery that will follow. Members should take action today. We need to make sure optometry is heard loud and clear, so that there are no disruptions in the essential care to the public that doctors of optometry provide each day. Optometric practices must be included in all physician-level and small-business crisis relief provisions now being readied to be voted on."
How can AOA members get involved?
Doctors, optometry students, and optometric staff are being urged by the AOA to contact their U.S. senators (via phone at 202-224-3121) to secure support for AOA's proposals recognizing the extreme challenges optometrists are facing. The organization has provided talking points, and requests individuals then update the AOA advocacy team in Washington, D.C.
For more on what optometrists should know about Congress’ second relief bill, qualified sick leave wages, and family leave wages, head here.