Fate of the ACA
In addition to optometry-specific legislation, the questions that surround the ACA remains a hot button.
“The uncertainties on the future of the ACA may cause some stagnation in the market as both patients and providers take a cautious wait-and-see approach to the future of health care,” says Dr. Spear.
One of the main areas of concerns is how ACA-covered children’s exams may be affected.
The ACA currently covers what it deems as the “10 essential health benefits,” including pediatric eye exams once per year.
“If the ACA is repealed, then pediatric eye exams will no longer be required,” says Dr. Rogoff. “Children’s eye exams could no longer be mandated or covered by Medicare. This may translate into fewer patients coming into your practice for preventative care due to out-of-pocket costs.”
Related: Looking back at 2016
In fact, the new Congress has already begun the process of dismantling the ACA with the introduction of its four-step plan.
According to Dr. Rogoff, the AOA has nurtured key relationships with legislators to ensure optometry continues to be included with healthcare changes in Medicare and other areas. However, he says there is tremendous uncertainty with these programs, and ODs must not take for granted their position in the healthcare industry.
“President-elect Trump is not completely sold on the final rule of the Medicare Access and Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and may seek changes within six to eight months after the new administration is sworn in,” says Dr. Rogoff.
Changes to these programs could change the way optometrists are reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for their services. Rep. Price favors a system in which doctors are in more control and getting paid from insurers without the extensive paperwork or questions—according to Forbes.
Because of this, Dr. Rogoff says ODs need to support the AOA and continue advocating for optometry to be included in the definition of healthcare.