Here are some of the highlights from my presidential year:
- ICD-10 became a reality and doctors were still paid in a timely fashion. The POA Electronic Claims Service helped the transition go smoothly.
- The Pennsylvania Diabetic Eye Health Alliance continued to expand its influence with third party payers, resulting in more diabetic patients seen by our members.
- ACT 31 became a requirement for license renewal and the POA provided courses to fulfill this new requirement. ACT 31 requires all licensed health professionals to complete at least two hours of Board-approved continuing education in child abuse recognition and reporting requirements as a condition of license renewal.
- The Think About Your Eyes program for POA members was voted on and passed by the House of Delegates. POA members will benefit from the increased advertising and online presence that TAYE provides starting in 2017.
- Despite our best efforts to pass our scope modification bill, Senate Bill 1012 remains within the Senate Consumer Protection and Licensure Committee. Likewise, Senate Bill 795, which would further define ophthalmic surgery, did not see the light of day and remains within the same committee. SB 795 was introduced by Ophthalmology, who would like to see a very broad definition of ophthalmic surgery.
- Senate Bill 978, the “vision plan bill” that was introduced by Senator Ward, successfully made it out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, and was passed 12-1. Our plan is to reintroduce both our scope bill and SB 978 in 2017 and keep the process moving forward.
- A data breach affecting optometrists across the nation was reported by the AOA. Many POA members reported being affected and were advised to take steps to protect their credit ratings and identity. No optometric organization has come forward to accept full responsibility.
- Optometry’s Meeting caught us by surprise when Dr. Greg Caldwell announced that he would not run for re-election to the AOA board for 2017. Greg continues to remain active on several committees at the AOA and POA levels, and remains dedicated to organized optometry.
- The Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act (S. 2777) to crack down on unscrupulous internet based contact lens sellers was introduced by Senator Bill Cassidy, an internist from Louisiana, with support of the AOA and other major contact lens companies.
- 1-800-CONTACTS entered into an agreement with Opternative and began to offer online “refraction” as a way to bypass a visit to an eye care practitioner. An app called “Simple Contacts” marketed itself to consumers as a way to renew your contact lens prescription in less than five minutes.
- VSP wanted to implement a reduction in reimbursement to doctors who did not purchase $6,000 worth of Altair/Marchon frames. As a result of action taken by the AOA this program was stopped.
- Dr. Charles Stuckey announced his intention to retire as the POA Executive Director after serving for 19 years!
I want to take this opportunity to thank my current POA Board, the entire POA staff, and the POA membership for the opportunity to serve as your president this past year. It was truly an honor and a privilege to serve the profession and I hope to remain active within organized optometry for many years to come. The POA is in excellent hands as I pass the President’s gavel over to Dr. Steven Eiss. I am confident that under his leadership the POA will continue to be your voice for a strong optometry.
One thing I can say for sure is that under my watch there were no 3 a.m. tweets about any former Miss Universe contestants and no private email servers containing classified information at the POA!
Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season,
Mark M. Margolies, O.D.