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Optometrists Received $1.69B in Federal COVID-19 Relief, AOA Reports

They’ve benefited from CARES Act provisions.

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The American Optometric Association reports that optometrists accessed more than $1.69 billion in federal  COVID-19 relief.

The aid has been a “lifeline” for practices, many of which are reporting a 20 percent to 40 percent decrease in patient visits year-over-year, according to the AOA.

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The relief has come through programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program and Department of Health and Human Services’ physician relief grants. The provisions are a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The AOA states that 16,782 optometry practices received forgivable PPP loans. Of those, more than 1,700 received loans of over $150,000.

AOA estimates that $347.9 million in HHS physician relief grants went to optometry.

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The association explains: “Combined with the AOA’s advocacy to ensure optometry’s inclusion in the CARES Act and other federal relief measures, and the AOA’s multifaceted COVID-19 response, the AOA also helped doctors gain access to and make best use of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), federal student loan payment deferments and expanded Medicare telehealth provisions.”

AOA President William T. Reynolds, OD, said: “Over the past several months, the AOA has focused on ensuring that doctors of optometry across the nation have the support they need to withstand the significant impacts this pandemic has had—and continues to have—on our patients and our profession.

“Through AOA’s steadfast advocacy in Washington, D.C., and all-out reprioritization in these challenging times, we can proudly say tens of thousands of doctors of optometry have been able to access these federal relief opportunities to ensure their patients and communities won’t go without essential primary eye health and vision care.”

 

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