IAO News - 2012 AAO MidYear Forum & Advocacy Day

Illinois Ophthalmologists Take Nation's Capital by Storm

altIllinois ophthalmology was well-represented during a highly successful week in Washington, DC, during the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Mid Year Forum (MYF) and Congressional Advocacy Day. Held in late April, Advocacy Day is an opportunity for state society and AAO members to present our concerns and positions to Members of Congress on critical issues facing the profession. The purpose of the MidYear Forum is to promote interaction and education on a range of topics, including socio-economic and practice-related subject matters.

Several IAO members represented you prominently with visits to Capitol Hill and by participating in the conference. We were particularly pleased to have sponsored Armin Afshar, MD, a resident at the University of Chicago, and who participated in the Academy's Resident Ambassador program which is designed to promote participation by young ophthalmologists in the public policy debate and organized ophthalmology.

View an Illinois photo album from the 2012 Mid Year Forum

To summarize the highlights of the meeting:

  • The Illinois delegation celebrated together Wednesday night in winning the President's Cup which recognized Illinois doctors who donated more than $25,000 to OPHTHPAC, the AAO political action committee. This was the second highest in total contributions among the 50 states, second only to California.

  • IAO ophthalmologists, including AAO President Dr. Ruth Williams, advocated on Capitol Hill on Thursday, April 26. Collectively, we met with Sen. Dick Durbin (assistant majority leader), Rep. Mike Quigley, Rep. Aaron Schock, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and legislative aides for Sen. Mark Kirk, Rep. Bobby Rush, Rep. Luis Gutierrez and others.

  • Topics of discussion included:

    •  The need to repeal the SGR (Sustainable Growth Rate). We stressed that if this unworkable formula is not repealed, Medicare fees could decrease by more than 25 percent, causing significant burdens to medical practices, not to mention our patients' access to care.

    • "Truth in Advertising" legislation which is intended to assure that the public understand the qualifications of the health care providers they are utilizing.

    • Support for funding for the National Eye Institute (NEI) and National Institutes of Health (NIH)

  •  Dr. Chris Albanis was invited to present at the AAO Council opening session, speaking on "Success Through Collaboration, Working Together for the Common Good." The purpose was to offer examples of collaborative efforts with the AAO, IAO and others – such as CMS – during the recent eye screening in Aurora. The ultimate message was: TEAM – Together, Everyone, Achieves, More. Special thanks was given to Dr. Bob Barnes and the Aurora Eye Clinic for leading the highly successful vision screening that took place on March 10 in Aurora.

  • Dr. Mat MacCumber spoke at the Council opening session, as well. His topic was "Recommendations on Genetic Testing of Inherited Eye Diseases."

  • Dr. Rick Quinones chaired the Great Lakes States regional meeting of Councilors. In this capacity, he moderated a discussion among delegates from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin concerning political, socio-economic and organizational issues.

  •  Illinois perspectives were well-represented by members who served as Councilors representing the IAO and subspecialty societies. Issues such as physician and patient registries, electronic medical records, telemedicine, membership issues of national and state societies, advertising in medicine, and another of other pressing matters were debated.

  • IAO Executive Director Rich Paul participated in the day-long State Executive Directors Forum, as well as the MYF and Council sessions.

We view this as a highly successful event for the delegates from Illinois. CONGRATULATIONS to our doctors for their successes in Washington, DC, and for advocating on behalf of ophthalmology, the needs of our patients and our employees. THANK YOU!

2012 Mid-Year Forum and Advocacy Day participants and current roles in the AAO & the IAO

Ruth Williams, MD

AAO President; IAO member

Tamara Fountain, MD

AAO Secretary for Member Services; IAO past-president

Jonathan Rubenstein, MD

AAO Secretary for Annual Meeting; IAO member

William Mieler, MD

Chair of AAO Subspecialty Day Committee; AAO Representative to the American College of Surgeons; IAO member

Lisa Nijm, MD, JD

Member of OPHTHPAC Committee; AAO young ophthalmologist delegate to the AMA; former IAO board member

Richard Quinones, MD Councilor representing the IAO

Mathew MacCumber, MD PhD

Councilor for the American Society of Retina Specialists; IAO member

Paul Bryar, MD

Councilor for the American Association of Ophthalmic Pathologists; IAO member

Chris Albanis, MD

Member of AAO Secretariat for State Affairs; Alternate Councilor representing Illinois; IAO president

Armin Afshar, MD, MBA

Illinois Resident Delegate to the Advocacy Ambassador Program

Richard Paul

IAO Executive Director