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Up-to-date info on MOA legislative advocacy efforts and issues impacting Maryland Optometry.

 

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ACT NOW! Sign our Petition, Email and Call your Legislators

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, February 12, 2019
The battle of the Os continues and we cannot allow Ophthalmology to determine the Maryland Optometry scope of practice. We've created a petition and email campaign in support of Optometry-sponsored legislation (House Bill 471 / Senate Bill 447) to expand the current antiquated scope of practice. Hearings have been set for both sets of scope expansion bills (Optometry-sponsored and Ophthalmology-sponsored). The house bills will be heard next week on Thursday, February 21. The Senate bills will heard the following week on Tuesday, February 26. No this is not a joke -- Ophthalmology intends to offer sponsor amendments at the hearings to to remove and/or further restrict certain new authorities contained in THEIR own legislation as it was introduced last week. So much for their "compromise bill," which is how ophthalmology has been referring to their legislation in Annapolis. 

NOW WE NEED YOU TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION! We have made it painfully simple for everyone to contact their their legislators in Annapolis. In less than a minute you can make a difference and stop the regulation of optometry by ophthalmology. Visit the MOA Advocacy Page to sign our petition and email your legislators asking for support of HB 471 and SB 447. Please tell EVERYONE you know (doctors, friends, family, staff, acquaintances, your mailman) to do the same. The more constituents that legislators hear from the louder our voice becomes and the harder we are to ignore. 


Jennifer Cohen
Executive Director

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Subject: THE TIME IS NOW! Get Involved/Take Action

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, February 5, 2019
 
 
2019 legislation to modernize the Maryland scope of practice of optometry has "officially" been introduced in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly, and legislators need to hear from YOU! We ask EVERY OD licensed in this state to visit the new Advocacy Landing page on the MOA website and EMAIL their representatives in Annapolis about the importance of passing scope expansion legislation this year! Communicating with your legislators has NEVER BEEN EASIER! A few clicks and you've done your part. Our OD Advocacy Days in Annapolis have been a huge success, but legislators need to hear from YOU as a CONSTITUENT. Let's Email, Tweet, Petition lawmakers and ask patients, staff, colleagues, friends and family to do the same until our voice is heard!

The time has also come for MOA to submit names to the Governor's Office of Appointments and Executive Nominations for a possible open seat on the State Board of Optometry. By law, MOA must recommend three qualified candidates to the Governor by March 9, 2019 for appointment to the Maryland State Board of Examiners in Optometry (BOE). The open seat is due to the expiration of the first of two terms served by current BOE Member, Dr. Mesheca Bunyon. Please visit the MOA website Board of Examiners Nomination page for more information and stay tuned for additional scope expansion alerts. They will now come fast and furious in the days to come. 

P.S. Ophthalmology has decided to introduce their own bill to amend the optometry practice act...being dubbed the "compromise bill." ACT NOW....PLEASE!!!

Jennifer Cohen
Executive Director
 
 

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2019 Session is Heating Up!

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, January 29, 2019
First and foremost, the MOA expects our 2019 cross-filed scope expansion legislation to be introduced in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly before the week's end. The legislation enjoys bi-partisan sponsorship, including both the Senate and House Health Committee chairs. Once we have bill numbers, we need EVERY Maryland OD -- AND --  your patients, staff, family and friends to contact their legislators to ask for their support. In the meantime, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE share patient stories about access issues as a result of Maryland Optometry's antiquated scope of practice on our Maryland ODs on Facebook page, and stay tuned for regular updates moving forward. 

On a separate front, the MOA has been working with parent advocates, community, and ophthalmic industry collaborators on another important piece of legislation to ensure all Maryland children with visual impairments that could be affecting their ability to succeed academically receive a referral for a comprehensive eye exam. The initiative came about in part as a result of a 2016 finding by the U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSER) that determined that the Maryland State Board of Education (MSDE) had been interpreting the Federal IDEA law with regards to 'Visual Impairment' in an unfairly restrictive manner. In short, certain Maryland jurisdictions had been denying assess to federal IDEA services to children with a visual impairment that did not constitute them being legally blind (e.g. binocular vision deficiencies such as convergence insufficiency). The 2019 legislation being sponsored by the two M.D.s serving in the General Assembly (Del. Terri Hill and Sen. Clarence Lam) would require that children being assessed for eligibility for an IEP and special education services and/or special services due to a potential learning disability be referred for an eye exam. Although the legislation and initiative enjoys much support, there is a current effort to overturn the 2016 OSER finding and prevent passage of the 2019 legislation by the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons (MSEPS). Why, you may ask? Perhaps this 2017 American Academy of Ophthalmology 2017 PAC strategy report (see last page) will shed some light on the answer. Yet another example of how patients suffer as a result of turf wars and bad politics. The kids should come first!

 

Jennifer Cohen

Executive Director

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Another Successful Advocacy Day in Annapolis!

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

We had another successful Advocacy Day in Annapolis! If you have not signed up for one of our upcoming ODs in Annapolis Days please do so TODAY by clicking HERE. Next week we will have a bill number and a new advocacy page that will make it simple for you to communicate with your legislators. Stay tuned!

 

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Breaking News: Storm of ODs Blankets Annapolis Capitol Building!

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, January 15, 2019

 

      Optometrists from Baltimore, Columbia, Central Maryland and the Eastern Shore descended on Annapolis this week, blanketing the state Capitol like a fierce winter storm working its way up the Mid-Atlantic.  While our recent snowstorm covered the area with some of that thick white stuff, ODs covered the halls of the legislature dressed in white coats and armed with scope expansion White Papers. We stormed the House and Senate buildings, meeting with our local representatives as well as committee members who will vote on our bill in just a few short weeks.  Our historic bill will change the landscape of optometry in Maryland as we know it.  And while the forecast looks promising, there is plenty of work ahead. 

     Many of the legislators we met with are empathetic to our cause, and access to healthcare in Maryland will be a resonating theme in this year’s General Assembly.  We are introducing our bill at a crucial moment in the arc of politics in our great state.  The Assembly is young, progressive, and open to change that betters the lives of all Marylanders.  Our bill fits in lockstep with this vision. 

    Thank you to every OD who took the time, or is planning to come to Annapolis and meet with our representatives to advocate on behalf of our profession.  Click HERE if you would like to sign up! Our grassroots efforts are the best they’ve been in years and are relationships are stronger than ever.  This is our year!

Dean Gogerdchi

MOA President-Elect

 

 

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Practice What You Preach

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Practice what you preach!

 

Be honest now, when was your last eye exam? And not one that you just pieced together on the exhibit hall floor at the last convention with all the shiny new toys! A full dilated exam with a refraction from someone objective…wait, does that mean some of our patients are better taken care of than ourselves? What do the solo practitioners do in this case?

 

Do you have an associate check the fit each time you trial out new contact lenses on the market? Do they check for proper movement? Do you take a video with your anterior segment camera? Are they checking for rotation on your astigmatism lenses?

 

Are you going online for all of your office resources? We tell our patients to shop local because we offer better services and warranties. How about our optometric CE for example? Some people do truly learn better on their own and maybe online, but participating in national and state-wide conferences offers a greater benefit for many reasons! Peer to peer networking, receiving up to date legislative information, and one on one conversations with nationally regarded lecturers are just a few of the services you just can’t get online.

 

So practice what you preach and take the time to take care of yourself!

 

Dr. Vicky Wong, OD

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Definition of Insanity

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, December 18, 2018
The past few years have taught us a valuable lesson about our scope expansion advocacy efforts - namely, that success demands we try something new. I think it is fair to say that there is a history of Machiavellian motivation that has driven certain opponents of optometric scope expansion over the decades. While infuriating, this is the fundamental reason why the strongest and most logical merit arguments are not always effective. If this is true, then the question becomes how do we convince certain decision makers of the validity of our argument without the use of logic? The answer could be vastly different depending on the individual you are attempting to influence, but every answer must begin with some knowledge of what is important to the legislator at the time of your advocacy. We need to know what drives the policy makers we are attempting to influence.
 
While MOA lobbyists do an excellent job relaying much of this information, there are still unknowns...especially with so many freshman in the House and Senate now. We are meeting with these new members every week and attending fundraisers regularly, but the most effective way to obtain the information needed to be successful is through face-to-face and one-on-one communication between legislators and their constituents. This may sound like a broken record, but we need these new legislators and certain policy makers that require motivation beyond logic arguments to HEAR FROM YOU! They need to hear about patients (their constituents) who have been inconvenienced  due to the archaic law that is the Maryland Optometry Practice Act and they need to see ODs walking the halls of Annapolis like the ophthalmologist do this Session in white coats...because after all, optometrists are doctors too!
 
If you have not signed up for one of our four ODs Storm Annapolis Days this Session (Jan-Feb) PLEASE SIGN UP HERE! We thank everyone who has donated to the cause since our Tuesday Talks have begun, please check HERE for a list of all our MOA PAC donors. If you have not contributed yet this year and wish to do so, CLICK HERE to make your donation online.

We don't need to become Machiavellian, but we do "know thine enemy" and we are more prepared than ever before for the war that is sure to come this January. Stay tuned for more updates and check out (or subscribe to) the MOA OD Facebook Page and Member Only Access section of the State Government page on the MOA website for some exciting new information that will be posted later this week!

 

Jennifer Cohen

Executive Director

 

 

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'Tis the Season

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, December 11, 2018

'Tis The Season...

…For reflection and giving! As the holiday season and New Year approach and we prepare to spend time with family and friends away from the daily grind, one can't help but reflect on the year gone by and what next year will bring. Maryland Optometry has much to look forward to in 2019. As a result of recent elections we are truly positioned better than ever before to pass meaningful scope expansion legislation this upcoming Session. Over the last two years, we have grown our grassroots network, we have tripled our relationships with key legislators, and have made important connections with officials and departments inside the current Administration. Make no mistake, passing a bill WILL NOT BE EASY, but we can make 2019 our year if we are willing to outwork ophthalmology and medicine.

 However, this cannot and will not happen without you! We need all hands on deck if we want to "win" the battle to come. Please do not let this opportunity slip away by doing nothing. Find your State legislators and their contact information HERE if you don't know already, and start calling them TODAY. Let those who represent you in Annapolis know how important scope expansion is to both you and your patients.  Every Maryland licensed OD has at least one story about a patient who had to be turned away for treatment unnecessarily because of our antiquated practice act. Tell your legislators that story. Tell them how it needlessly cost the patient time, money and could have (or maybe did) result in an adverse health outcome for the patient.

Sign up for one of our four ODs Storm Annapolis days in January and February and please make a donation to the MOA PAC. Prior to the start of the 2019 Session there are many fundraisers to attend, and for better or worse, optometry needs to show the love to both new and old friends alike. "Giving" is essential to the cause, and Jan 1 marks the new "giving" cycle, so please do what you can and give something to help us get to the finish line! 

 Happy Tuesday To All, And To All A Goodnight!

 

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The Good, The Bad and the Ugly - Politics as Usual

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, December 4, 2018

             Click HERE to sign up for our ODs Storm Annapolis Days!

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The 7 Vision Plan Sins

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, November 27, 2018

 

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