WASHINGTON, April 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following a historic vote to end a decade of instability for Medicare funding, more than 400 ophthalmologists from across the United States are meeting with lawmakers today on Capitol Hill. Representing the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the eye physicians and surgeons are meeting with members of Congress to commend them on their latest efforts and encourage them to take further steps to ensure that Americans receive the best possible eye care.
Members of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, are participating in meetings with each of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and all 100 senators. They are using their Academy-organized annual visit to the nation's Capital to remind Congress that there is still more work to be done to protect Americans' current and future access to sight-saving treatments. Among them are:
- Truth in Health Care Advertising Act (H.R. 1741) – Ophthalmology is pressing for the passage of legislation that would make it unlawful for any health care professional to make deceptive statements or engage in any act that misleads patients regarding their education, training, degree, licensure or clinical experience. Sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Larry Bucshon, M.D., R-Ind., and David Scott, D-Ga., the proposed legislation attempts to respond to growing confusion by the public and patients regarding the appropriate providers for various eye care services.
- Increasing funding for vision research – Ophthalmologists are asking lawmakers to ensure adequate funding for vision research, including $730 million for the National Eye Institute and $15 million for the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Vision Trauma Research Program. Enhanced funding levels would directly respond to the soaring annual U.S. cost of $145 billion for vision disorders, which is forecasted to grow to more than $717 billion annually by 2050. In addition, deployment-related eye injuries and blindness for U.S. service men and women cost the United States $2.3 billion a year, driven primarily by the present value of Veterans Administration and Social Security benefits, lost wages, and family care.
- Easier adoption of electronic medical health records –The Academy is urging lawmakers to support the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act - H.R. 270, which will spur significant changes to the program. Among them are relief from the accelerating penalties many of the nation's physicians are facing due to difficulty in complying with the requirements of the program. It also provides greater flexibility to lessen the burden of participation. The Academy warns that, if these changes are not made, many physicians will choose to drop out of the Medicare EHR incentive program, lessening the amount of patient-related data accessible for government reporting programs aimed at improving the quality of care for seniors.
"The Academy acknowledges the significant achievement by Congress this week in reforming the antiquated Medicare formula for determining physician pay," said David W. Parke II, M.D., CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Our member physicians are making it a point to congratulate our federal lawmakers on this rare bipartisan effort to respond to pressing issues that affect tens of millions of Americans. We're counting on them to continue this approach to resolve other extremely critical health care issues that directly impact the quality of eye care we can provide for our patients."
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, serving more than 32,000 members worldwide. The Academy's mission is to advance the lifelong learning and professional interests of ophthalmologists to ensure that the public can obtain the best possible eye care. For more information, visit www.aao.org.
The Academy is also a leading provider of eye care information to the public. The Academy's EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.
SOURCE American Academy of Ophthalmology