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AADO Changes its Name to Union of American Eye Care Providers

AADO Hires Washington D.C. Anti-Trust Attorney David Balto, Esq.

Press Release

AADO Marketing Campaign to Begin

AADO Ad 1 (PDF)

AADO Ad 2 (PDF)

 

About Us

Optometrists are the primary providers of eye care in America today. Having moved far beyond the traditional roles of prescribing glasses and contact lenses, today optometrists in all fifty states provide the vast majority of non-surgical treatment of eye injuries and diseases, everything from dry eyes, "pink eye," and allergies to sight threatening diseases such as glaucoma and uveitis. As health care in American evolves, and as it undergoes dramatic changes in its delivery with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there are three fundamental requirements to enabling optometrists to continue taking care of the full range of the public's eye care needs:

  • Consumers of eye care, that is, individuals in need of eye care, must recognize that optometrists treat the majority of eye disease in the United States; 

  • Given that most eye disease and injury is, or will be, covered by third party payer plans, consumers must have access to optometrists in those plans; and

  • Optometrists must be fairly compensated for providing care in order to remain financially viable and be able to afford to provide the care that their patients need.

The American Association of Doctors of Optometry (AADO) is an organization created for the sole purpose of improving access to and the quality of eye care in the United States. It will achieve that purpose by removing barriers to care imposed by 3rd party payers, removing the barriers to free competition among eye care providers, and by advancing and protecting the interests of optometrists during times of significant changes in American health care delivery so that they can continue to take care of the needs of the American public. Today, however, optometrists appear to face several seemingly insurmountable hurdles in achieving that goal:

 

  There is a long-standing and pervasive view among consumers of eye care (and the public at large) that optometrists are the doctors that "prescribe glasses and contact lenses." Far too few members of the public are aware that optometrists are the primary providers of medical eye care in the United States. Optometrists have been relatively ineffective at changing this public perception, even as they become more and more involved in providing the full scope of medical eye care to patients in their practices.

 

  More and more members of the public have insurance and/or vision care plans that cover some or all of their eye care, and those numbers are expected to increase substantially as the Affordable Care Act is implemented in the coming years. But, third party payers and vision plans largely ignore the providers as they design their provider agreements, and are able to do so because anti-trust laws prevent optometrists from collectively bargaining for better contract terms.

 

  Vision and health care plans, in order to increase their profits, are imposing more and more anti-competitive rules and regulations upon eye care providers, leading to "standardization" among otherwise natural competitors and higher prices to consumers. By using network provider contracts to establish fixed fees, to set discounts and prohibit providers from offering bigger or smaller discounts, and by preventing providers from seeking their goods and materials from vendors of their choice, 3rd party payers are eliminating virtually all competition among providers which leads to higher prices to consumers. 

 

  Vision plans and third party payers have been able to make unilateral changes to their provider agreements, changes that are often unfair to the provider, essentially at will. Some have termed this the "race to the bottom." Optometrists, often dependent on being a provider on these plans for their economic well-being, are individually powerless to do anything to stop the plans from making it difficult to remain financially viable.

 

  A variety of laws have been passed, both Federal (e.g. the Harkin Amendment) and on the state level, designed to force third party payers and vision plans to treat providers fairly and to help ensure that consumers will have access to the eye doctor of their choice. But, because there is nobody to enforce these laws, plans have been able to largely ignore them.

 

The American Association of Doctors of Optometry (AADO) seeks to address each of these problems, not through collective bargaining, price fixing, or group boycotts (both illegal under anti-trust law), but through the collective financial support of a single entity that will have the means to act on behalf of patients, consumers, and practicing optometrists. Most anti-trust laws prohibit "conspiracy" and "collective" action, which necessarily requires two or more actors working in concert, and it focuses on activities that are anti-competitive. By concentrating interests and support into a single entity, acting alone and independently, that is at all times working to improve the quality of care and to improve competition, change can be achieved without violating Federal or state anti-trust laws. 

 

The AADO will be made of a group of as many as 2,500 or more optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians, independent labs, and others whom will each contribute a small monthly amount to the organization, enabling the organization, alone, on its own behalf, to do that which individual optometrists either do not have the means or power to do alone, or which they cannot do collectively without violating anti-trust law. The result will be that consumers in need of eye care will have access to providers that are willing and able to take care of them, all in a free, pro-competitive market. 

 

Organizational Documents