She was joined by J&J's Peter Menziuso.
(Press Release) WASHINGTON, DC — American Optometric Association President Andrea Thau, together with Johnson & Johnson Vision North America President Peter Menziuso, met with members of Congress underscoring the importance of expanded access to in-person eye health and vision care provided by doctors of optometry, and building new support for AOA-backed patient health and safety priorities, including the need for a federal crackdown on illegal contact lens sales.
The group met with key House and Senate leaders, including Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH) and Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX) on Capitol Hill. In addition to discussing the status of legislation to overhaul the health care system, Thau and Menziuso specifically urged officials to oppose a federal agency proposal that would impose new paperwork burdens on doctors and patients while not addressing predatory practices of some online contact lens sellers which have the potential to harm patients and increase healthcare costs.
“Optometry was heard loud and clear today in Washington, DC. The Capitol Hill meetings help ensure that optometry practices from coast to coast and our AOA are recognized as a nationwide force for patient health and vision,” said Thau. “At a time when elected officials are making important decisions about the direction of health care, our AOA and state associations are making sure that that our frontline and expanding role is understood and that our priorities, focused on protecting the doctor-patient relationship, are front and center.”
During the week of June 19, in conjunction with Optometry’s Meeting in Washington, DC, thousands of AOA doctors and students from all 50 states will have the opportunity to present the organization’s priorities to U.S. Senators and House members as part of AOA on Capitol Hill, expected to be optometry’s largest-ever advocacy event.
The gathering comes as healthcare legislation is at the top of Congress’s “to do” list.
Building on high-level meetings, the AOA on Capitol Hill advocacy effort is aimed at winning new supporters in Congress for AOA priorities, including:
- Safeguarding full physician recognition and inclusion in physician-level programs.
- Upholding existing laws that assure access to in-person, comprehensive eye examinations, including essential pediatric eye health coverage and a ban on discrimination by ERISA and other plans.
- Ensuring patients' safety from unsafe telehealth schemes and services and illegal contact lens sales.
- Ceasing abusive, anti-doctor health and vision plan policies, as reflected by the provisions of the AOA and American Dental Association-backed, bipartisan Dental and Optometric Care Access Act (HR 1606).
- Fighting back against any effort to downgrade access to essential eye health and vision care for America’s veterans.
“From my meetings today, I can see that our AOA and state association’s 24/7/365 advocacy efforts are making a difference in how elected officials, employers, the media and the public view our profession,” said Thau. “However, with special interest groups with a fiercely anti-optometry agenda more active than ever, this is the time for all AOA doctors and students to speak out together for our practices and our patients.”
“I want to thank Mr. Menziuso, president of Johnson & Johnson Vision, for making today’s meetings a priority to attend and for providing an important perspective to the leaders we visited,” added Thau.
For more information, visit www.aoa.org/aoaoncapitolhill.