Article Date: 8/1/2008

Florida O.D.s Attempt to Set The Record Straight
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Florida O.D.s Attempt to Set The Record Straight

STATE ASSOCIATION INTENDS TO PURSUE AUTHORIZATION FOR ORAL MEDS, NOT INJECTIONS

■ The Florida Optometric Association (FOA) says it has plans to file legislation to allow optometrists to prescribe oral medications in the state, but it vehemently denies any plans to seek authorization to perform intravitreal injections.

"This information [intravitreal injection rights] is the result of one M.D. in Florida who has and continues to circulate misstatements and allegations, which he knowingly was aware that they were false," says FOA Executive Director Ken Franklin in an e-mail to OM.

The false information began circulating just prior to Memorial Day, according to a memo issued by FOA President William D. Tanke, O.D., to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Retina Specialists and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. The memo says that a Florida M.D. sent e-mails to medical doctors urging them to send campaign contributions to his preferred candidate for the Florida Senate, so the candidate could stop Florida O.D.s from filing legislation to obtain rights to prescribe oral medications and perform intravitreal injections.

In response, the FOA Legislative Committee Chair, Ronald Foreman, O.D., replied via e-mail to the Florida M.D. explaining that the information he'd disseminated to his fellow medical doctors regarding intravitreal injections was false, according to the memo. In a separate e-mail, Dr. Foreman asked the Florida ophthalmologist to provide any evidence or documentation regarding this information, so the FOA could set the record straight. The M.D. never replied, though he did start a national campaign directed toward his fellow ophthalmologists restating his claims and asking for political contributions, the memo says.

In addition, the American Academy of Ophthalmology sent an e-mail to its members entitled: "AAO Legislative Support Request: Optometrists Push for Surgery Privileges in Bellwether States: California and Florida," which repeated the allegations. (As an aside, Tim Hart, director of Government and External Affairs for the California Optometric Association (COA) says that the COA filed a bill in late February to expand the scope of practice for California optometrists who are third party administrator [TPA] certified, though this does not include intravitreal injections.)

Dr. Tanke wrote in the memo: "… Our purpose is to ‘set the record straight. We are hopeful that your individual associations will likewise properly inform your members so that they can make their personal decisions based on fact, not fiction.’"

Senate Averts Medicare Scare, For Now…

BILL TEMPORARILY PREVENTS CUTS FOR DOCTORS

■ By a 70 to 26 vote, the U.S. Senate quashed President Bush's veto of H.R. 6331 — a bill created to protect doctors from a 10.6% cut in their Medicare reimbursement fees.

In addition to preventing the cuts, the bill also extends the 0.5% payment update through December 31, 2008. Also, the "Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008" precludes a 5% pay cut, which was scheduled to start January 1, 2009, and provides a 1.1% increase in Medicare reimbursements to doctors for 2009. Further, H.R. 6331 blocks the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from lumping optometrists, among other healthcare professionals, with commercial suppliers as part of the durable medical equipment/prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) accreditation program. The American Optometric Association opposed including O.D.s with commercial suppliers because:

► Optometrists are already licensed professionals.
► It's in an optometrist's best interest to provide patients with quality care and
► Accreditation would cost thousands of dollars, possibly preventing optometrists from being able to afford to provide post-cataract surgery patients with eyewear, as CMS reimbursement may not make up for the cost.

Prevent Blindness America Launches Children's Platform

PBA SEEKS VISION CARE FOR ALL U.S. CHILDREN

■ Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has released "Our Vision for Children's Vision: A National Call to Action For The Advancement of Children's Vision and Eye Health" — a detailed packet that provides a framework for sight-saving initiatives and services. PBA hopes the comprehensive plan unifies all the important resources from the vision health community, such as the American Optometric Association (AOA), to work together to expand vision care services, according to a PBA press release.

"Our hope is that by developing this national platform and strategy, other organizations, specifically in the vision, healthcare, education and public health arenas will join with us to help promote healthy vision for all children," says Hugh R. Parry, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of PBA. "Broad public-private collaboration will help ensure our children can enjoy the gift of sight."

The packet is comprised of information regarding:

► professional vision care
► vision screening: a common approach and understanding
► school readiness and vision
► children's eye safety
► public awareness
► pediatric vision and eye health research
► common children's vision and eye problems
► pediatric vision screening program protocol
► eye safety tips

The organization was prompted to create this packet because more than 12 million U.S. school-aged children have some sort of visual problem, and it wants to ensure that by 2020 all children receive an eye exam or vision screening by the time they enter school, according to PBA.

To obtain a copy of the packet, visit www.preventblindness.org.

Site Showcases Academy for Eyecare Excellence
The Web site www.cibavisionacademy.com, from CIBA Vision, provides you with an overview of the company's Academy for Eyecare Excellence and access to information regarding the programs it offers, such as the Management and Business Academy and the First Practice Academy. Also included: educational programs for corporate affiliated eyecare professionals.

AOA and Transitions Deliver Hispanic-Focused Resources

ATENCIÓN OPTOMETRISTA

■ The American Optometric Association and Transitions Optical have teamed up to deliver new communications tools and resources that focus on the unique needs of the Hispanic population.

The Hispanic Vision Initiative will provide education to optometrists to help them better understand and accommodate specific cultural and risk factors that pertain to Hispanic patients.

"Understanding the unique eye health and communication needs of the Hispanic population is critical," said Martha Rivera, Hispanic market segment manager, Transitions, said during a press conference at the AOA's annual meeting. "For example, Hispanic patients are at greater risk for many eye and systemic diseases, which have implications for eye health – but they are unaware of how to protect themselves."

This message was echoed in a study in the July Archives of Ophthalmology, which noted that in Hispanic-American populations, the frequency of eye examinations among individuals with diabetes is less than the national average. In addition, knowledge of the ocular complications of diabetes is low among Hispanic Americans.

As part of its "Hispanic Vision Initiative," the Transitions Partners in Education program will provide a grant for the AOA to translate key public information into Spanish. The AOA will also develop a new Spanish section on its Web site. These will complement the range of Spanish-language patient education tools already available through the AOA and Transitions.

At the press conference, outgoing AOA President Kevin Alexander, O.D., said that "more than 3,500 AOA member practices are located in areas with significant numbers of Hispanic residents." He added that it is "more important than ever for eyecare professionals to overcome existing language and cultural barriers" that can hinder health care services to Hispanic Americans.

O.D. NOTE BOOK
The American Optometric Association (AOA) presented its annual awards to: Arol R. Augsburger, O.D., Chicago, Ill., Distinguished Service Award; Linda D. Johnson, O.D., Jackson, Miss., Optometrist of the Year; Elizabeth Draper Muckley, O.D., Uniontown, Ohio, Young Optometrist of the Year; Mr. James Kesteloot, Chicago, Ill., Apollo Award; and Mrs. Beverly Roberts, CPOA, of Magee, Miss., Paraoptometric of the Year Award.

■ The AOA elected Peter H. Kehoe, O.D., Galesburg, Ill., as president during the association's annual meeting. A graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry, Dr. Kehoe was first elected to the AOA Board of Trustees in 1999.

■ Salus University has announced the appointment of Linda Casser, O.D., as Dean of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University. The position becomes effective January 2009.

Santinelli International announced its 35th Anniversary this year. Joseph Santinelli, the company's Chairman of the Board, founded a leading manufacturer of lens finishing equipment, the company in 1973.

Prevent Blindness America released "Our Vision for Children's Vision: A National Call to Action for the Advancement of Children's Vision and Eye Health," a comprehensive platform on children's eye health. See above for more information.

Carl Zeiss Meditec announced that it has installed the 1,000th Cirrus HD-OCT system at Pima Eye Institute in Tucson, AZ. this spectral domain technology instrument offers high-definition 3D maps of individual retinal layers to reveal pathology hidden within the retinal tissue.

Transitions Optical is updating the "Eyeglass Guide" to include an interactive eyeglass customization process. The consumer Web site (eyeglassguide.com) will re-launch this summer and be supported by TV and print advertising.

The Transitions Partners in Education announced a poster program to address the impact of diabetes on healthy sight. The two posters discuss the importance of proper eyewear and eye care in preserving vision. To obtain the posters for your practice, call Transitions customer services at (800) 848-1506.

Allergan announced it intends to file a New Drug Application with the FDA for bimatoprost, a prostaglandin analog, as a treatment to stimulate eyelash growth. According to company estimates, the global mascara market amounts to $3.7 billion annually.

The Management & Business Academy (MBA), a professional education program sponsored by CIBA Vision and Essilor, has published the 2008 update of Key Metrics of Optometric Practice. The publication compiles performance benchmarks for private optometrists, gathered from more than 800 U.S. practices. Download a copy of Key Metrics at www.mba-ce.com.


Optometric Management, Issue: August 2008