VSP, AOA set forum on stand-alone vision coverage

May 15, 2012

VSP Global and the American Optometric Association will meet in an open forum here on Thursday, May 24, to discuss their divergent views on stand-alone vision plans participating in state health exchanges.

ST. LOUIS-VSP Global and the American Optometric Association will meet in an open forum here on Thursday, May 24, to discuss their divergent views on stand-alone vision plans participating in state health exchanges. The forum will be 6:30 to 8 p.m. CST at the St. Louis Airport Marriott Hotel.

Meeting host VSP said it will simulcast the forum to its membership, which includes more than 28,000 doctors.

VSP has set up a link to register for the forum, and posted its invitation letter to AOA leaders.

“Over 100 million people receive their eyecare today through stand-alone vision plans.  VSP thinks it's important that optometry has access to all patients, including those purchasing coverage through the Exchanges,” VSP Global Board Chairman Stuart Thomas, OD, said.

The lineup

Representing VSP at the forum will be CEO Rob Lynch, Tim Jankowski, OD, FAAO, immediate past chair, and Dan Mannen, OD, FAAO, board of directors. Participating on behalf of the AOA will be Stephen Montaquila, OD, chair, Third Party Center Executive Committee; Robert L. Jarrell, OD, chair, AOA State Government Relations Center Executive Committee; and Roger Jordan, OD, chair, AOA Federal Relations Committee.

At issue is whether doctors not affiliated with qualified health insurance plans will be able to participate in the state exchanges.

“Vision plans can participate in the health insurance exchange in every state by partnering with a qualified health plan and agreeing that eye health care is best provided by integration of the vision and medical care we provide,” AOA President Dori Carlson, OD, said.  “There is no provision anywhere in the law that seeks to limit or eliminate anyone’s vision coverage.  In fact, it expands coverage and patient access to optometric care.”

Combining vision with medical health care is the point where both groups concur.

“VSP is 1,000 percent in agreement with the AOA on the concept of integrating vision within the medical model,” Dr. Thomas said. “However, health plans don’t have a history of allowing all optometrists to participate and paying us fairly. They make money by decreasing utilization and decreasing pay to providers. There is no guarantee in the new model that optometrists will be able to participate and have payment parity with medical physicians.

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