U.S. Representative Schilling Receives AOA Health Care Leadership Award

Optometrists Recognize Support for Greater Patient Choice and Competition in Health Care Marketplace, Efforts to Eliminate Federal Barriers to Small Business Success and Boost Job Growth

Apr 06, 2011, 09:00 ET from American Optometric Association

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Representative Bobby Schilling (R-IL) was recognized today for providing important leadership on key health care and small business policy issues by doctors of optometry from his home district and their national organization, the 36,000 member American Optometric Association (AOA).   

"Rep. Schilling has made full use of his background as a successful small business owner to quickly emerge as a respected leader among the newly-elected members of Congress," said Joe Ellis, O.D., AOA president. "We've seen how he listens to the concerns of patients and doctors in his district, and takes action to safeguard access to quality care. For speaking out plainly and effectively, and showing the courage needed to improve our health care system, it is an honor to present Rep. Bobby Schilling with the 2011 AOA Health Care Leadership Award."

Illinois optometrists and the AOA are now working with Rep. Schilling and other leaders in Congress to eliminate unnecessary and costly requirements now burdening optometry practices and other small businesses, such as the IRS Form 1099 expanded reporting requirement included in the new health reform law and scheduled to take effect in 2012. With support from Rep. Schilling, AOA-backed legislation to repeal this harmful new mandate was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives and is under consideration in the US Senate.

The AOA and patient advocates are also working to fully implement a key health insurance market reform which has received strong bi-partisan backing for nearly a decade, but was ultimately included in the new health reform law. Supported in principal by Rep. Schilling, the "non-discrimination in health care" provision aims to increase patient access to the health care provider of their choice and seeks to introduce desperately needed competition into the health care marketplace.  

"I'm proud of Rep. Schilling and the work that he's doing in Congress for our communities," said Bill Bordwell, O.D. of Geneseo, IL. "My patients and I know that Rep. Schilling is fighting in Washington to help give our small businesses the tools that they need to boost economic activity and our local job market. We also know that Bobby is committed to advancing important insurance market reforms which will help ensure greater patient choice and introduce much-needed competition into the health care marketplace."

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):

The American Optometric Association represents approximately 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.

American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Prior to optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor's degree. Required undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care. For more information, visit www.aoa.org.

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SOURCE American Optometric Association