The change in political views that come with a new administration can affect new bills introduced to Congress—and existing bills that are awaiting approval.
“As professional challenges and changes in legislation by non-healthcare providers begin to shift, the market should be a concern to us all,” says Dr. Spear. “This is reason for everyone to get involved in their local, state, and national politics that can affect ODs.”
Dr. Rogoff says that eyecare professionals (ECPs) are in for a big struggle with the change in political parties controlling Washington.
“With new faces taking over, bill endorsers must build the relationship with the newly elected representatives—which can take some time to do,” says Dr. Rogoff. “The fact that a business-minded administration is coming into office may hinder the passing of any type of healthcare act.”
In December 2016, a federal judge upheld the decision that allows for a Utah law, SB 169, to prohibit the enforcement of minimum pricing standards, or unilateral pricing policies (UPP), on contact lenses. This was after an attempt in 2015 by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Bausch + Lomb, and Alcon to appeal the UPP law in Utah.
This law is designed to protect patients from price-fixing by retailers, but Dr. Rogoff says the law’s passage may change the way ODs prescribe contact lenses.
“With SB 169 being upheld in Utah, ECPs will have to work harder to compete with online retailers selling contact lenses,” says Dr. Rogoff.
Legislative concerns stretch far and wide—especially with the appointment of Tom Price (R-GA) as Health and Human Services Secretary.
Rep. Price wants to redo the structure of Medicare, says Dr. Rogoff—which could ultimately affect the reimbursement process to ODs.
“Rep. Price is supported by the American Medical Association, and that may affect his restructuring process,” Dr. Rogoff says. “Members of the AMA have voiced frustration in the past with the ACA and Medicare—so in 2017 we are likely looking at changes.”
The fight to keep optometry as part of Medicare has been an ongoing process regardless of administration.
“Optometry professionals, along with the American Optometric Association (AOA), fight year in and year out to keep optometry included as part of the definition of Medicare,” says Dr. Rogoff. “Currently, optometry is listed as a part of physician-based needs, but that can change at any time if Congress changes the federal law classification.”