Detailed Summary of AOA House of Delegates’ Actions
1) Through “COPE,” ARBO (Assoc. of Regulatory Board of Optometry) approves CE courses. COPE does not approve CE providers. When applying for educational grants, numerous optometric organizations were being asked to indicate which organization accredited them as a provider of CE. These same organizations were also concerned with higher costs when CE is approved by course instead of provider. Last year, the AOA House of Delegates instructed ACOE (Accreditation Council of Optometric Education) to develop a plan for ACOE to accredited CE providers. ARBO (COPE) opposed that approach. Arguments prior to Optometry’s Meeting were often incomplete, inaccurate or misleading (by many parties involved).
ARBO has agreed to consider and develop a plan with ARBO accrediting CE providers. At the same time, the AOA House of Delegates instructed ACOE to work with ARBO, providers of CE, etc. to consider a plan for ACOE to accredit optometric CE providers. Next June, it can then be decided if both ARBO and ACOE may accredit CE providers or one or the other. In brief, there is a commitment to move towards accreditation of optometric CE providers with the state set for more open and cooperative dialogue. With passage of the “motion” at the AOA House of Delegates and ARBO’s Board passing a related motion, there was no need to consider a AOA By-law amendment dealing with ACOE and CE provider accreditation.
Essentially, the AOA Board of Trustees will “continue to refine a model of CE accreditation including a model for accrediting CE providers, by seeking additional input from various key organizations within the profession, including discussions with ARBO on the future direction of COPE.” The scope of ACOE was NOT expanded this year. Additionally, ARBO made this resolution during their meeting the same week: “Resolved that the House of Delegates of the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO), at the 93rd annual meeting, mandate the Council of Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE) to implement alternative methods of accrediting education similar to those used by other organizations, including the Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) Provider Model of independent, accredited continuing education, and report to the ARBO Board of Directors and the 2013 ARBO House of Delegates.”
My take on this is that the both the AOA and ARBO House of Delegates felt it was worth continuing to study the provider accreditation model (which is what we currently use in Virginia) and to consider which method is best (accrediting providers or courses) or if a combination of the two makes sense.
2) AOA’s attorney provided a detailed overview of the AOS vs. ABO lawsuit. Of particular concern was Federal District Court Judge, A. Howard Matz’s, summary judgment which stated that optometrists are not physicians.
It is unclear the consequence this will have on our profession. Some believe it will have none. Others speculate that these words from the federal judge will be echoed in the legislative halls by ophthalmologists attempting to degrade our profession. Reiterated was that doctors of optometry are indeed “physicians” in Medicare, that a number of State Medicaid plans (including Virginia) include optometrists as “physicians,” and that in many states optometrists are recognized as optometric physicians. The AOA House of Delegates is not taking this lightly and unanimously passed two resolutions. One resolution was to instruct the AOA Board of Trustees to have the AOA get involved with this lawsuit, taking any and all action to reaffirm and defend optometrists as physicians. The other resolution instructed the AOA Board to respectfully request the AOS work jointly with the AOA in having Judge Matz’s statement appropriately revised.
Since the House of Delegates meeting, the judge has changed his statement.
3) In Oklahoma, U.S. Representative John Sullivan, was defeated in his Republican primary. Optometry, chiropractors (and the Tea Party) joined forces. Optometry was specifically credited for defeat of Congressman Sullivan. This is a great win for optometry nationally since Sullivan had repeatedly introduced the “Sullivan bill” which questioned if we were misleading patients by calling ourselves doctors.
4) There were quite a few bylaw changes regarding membership status. In an effort to track and encourage students to become AOA members when they became licensed, the AOA Board had suggested students pay nominal dues annually to the AOA. Demonstrating support of students, the AOA Board reached a consensus with AOSA (student association) so that AOA student dues are to remain at zero but AOA student members must now also join a State Affiliate (like the VOA). Residents will have to pay very nominal AOA dues ($35 per year). AOA no longer will have descending dues for members over age 70, but have in place other approaches to give consideration to long time members aged 70 and over and practicing. Defeated was a proposed change in the ascending dues schedule from 5 years to 4 years. And AOA members who fail to remit AOA dues quarterly will be dropped from membership. This addresses many State Associations not remitting AOA dues quarterly and on time. This will have no bearing on VOA members, noting Virginia was identified as one of only 4 or 5 states who pay their member AOA dues on time. All of these will be reviewed in an upcoming issue of the AOA News.