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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)

 

Summary FAQ

What is the AADO?

The AADO is a group of eye care providers and related entities, such as independent labs, collectively contributing money to an independent organization, in order to give that organization the collective resources and ability to do things that an individual doctor or small group of doctors would never have the resources to do on their own. The AADO is not a "union" in the sense that it seeks to use tools such as collective bargaining to raise reimbursement rates, nor will it or can it advocate or even advise that any doctor not participate in any given plan. It can, however, assist doctors in understanding plans, in conveying concerns to third party payers, and collecting data to assist third party payers in establishing its policies, and can use legal means to help doctors to obtain the rights and benefits they expect from third party provider agreements by seeking to enforce those agreements. 

 

Why Should I Support the AADO?

Virtually every independent eye care provider in either private or commercial/corporate practice stands to benefit by the work of the AADO. One of the principle goals of the AADO is to change the way consumers view optometrists as primary care eye care providers. While there are several important efforts underway to educate consumers about the need to have their eyes examined, nobody has tried to change the way consumers view optometrists. Our scope of practice has increased dramatically. Public perception needs to catch up. The ripple effect will be that demand for optometry's non-refractive services will increase, and 3rd party payers will adjust accordingly.

 

But that's only part of it. At the same time, optometry and other eye care providers must start taking a stand against the aggressive, anti-competitive, and sometimes predatory actions of third-party payers, and Vision Care Plans in particular. The AADO is poised to start "pushing back" against the aggressive anti-practitioner anti-competitive actions of these companies. Changing the relationship between Providers and their third party payers impacts nearly every independent eye care practice in the United States at one time or another. Under many current rules imposed by 3rd party payers and vision care plans, Providers are prevented from offering any discounts other than as directed by the plan(s), or seeking lower products costs so that they can pass savings on to their patients, The "standardization" of business practices by onerous and unfair 3rd party rules eliminates competition among practitioners, leading to higher costs to consumers. The AADO seeks to restore the free market to eye care.

 

Should I Be Afraid of Retaliation by VCPs?

Your relationship with AADO is strictly confidential. The AADO does not list or disclose the names of those that have joined or contributed to the organization. Certainly names of members or contributors can be discovered via subpoena in the event of litigation, but only upon a showing that it is relevant. The "wall" of separation between the members and the operational decisions of the AADO is designed to reduce that risk as much as possible.

 

What "Things" Will the AADO do?

The AADO has three prongs, more fully described elsewhere in this website:

  • Beginning the process of changing the perception the public has of optometrists as primary eye care providers
  • Work to improve the quality of eye care by engaging 3rd party payers in discussions to improve the terms of provider agreements so that they support, and are not an impediment, to the delivery of quality care
  • Seek to enforce laws and provider agreements, preventing unfair treatment by 3rd party payers

 

Why can the AADO do things other organizations can't do? Isn't this "Anti-trust?"

First, getting the attention of large 3rd party payers and Vision Care Plans requires having financial resources and commitment sufficient that they know they can be taken on. Large entities like VSP,  EyeMed, Blue Cross, Aetna, Luxottica, United Health Plan, etc., know that no individual provider has the resources to challenge their decisions and their unfair, and even illegal, business practices in a court of law.

 

Second, anti-trust laws make it illegal for "two or more" to act collectively to harm competition, but do not necessarily prevent a individual/single entity acting alone, that does not "conspire" with anyone, from representing the interests of eye care providers, especially when the affect is pro-competition. The AADO, acting independently, will engage with third party and vision care plans without implicating issues of or need to resort to collective actions, price fixing, and group boycotts, all of which may violate anti-trust law. This independence, along with a keen sense of what is and what is not illegal, gives the AADO a formidable and credible opportunity to get the attention of 3rd party payers. Established law permits a group like AADO to engage in a considerable amount of negotiation with health plans without violating anti-trust law. Prior to the AADO, nobody in eye care has been willing or able to engage in these kinds of LEGAL activities.

 

Finally, it will take several years of pervasive marketing and PR, costing millions of dollars, to change the way the public views an optometrist from the "glasses and contact lenses" doctor to the "doctor that treats my eye problems." Only a large group of optometrists willing to commit to that goal can get this done. No organization in optometry is built from the "ground up" to be able to function in such a way as to avoid or minimize anti-trust exposure the way the AADO is.

 

Why Can't Other, Existing Eye Care Groups do this?

AADO is non-political, non-academic, and completely independent so as to avoid otherwise inevitable conflicts and to limit anti-trust exposure. It doesn't work to get laws passed or seek to influence government policy in Washington. AADO picks up where others leave off -- by taking the policies and laws that have been put there through the hard work of others and working to ensure that they are enforced. No one group or entity can do everything and none tries. There is a need for focused attention on the areas that the AADO is focusing. AADO will have the means and tools to do what others in eye care either can't do or isn't a part of what they do.

 

What Can't or Won't the AADO Do?

The AADO will not negotiate fees or reimbursement rates, or at any time will it make recommendations to any provider, or generally, as to whether that provider should or should not contract with or remain contracted with any health plan. Those are individual decisions to be made by individual providers. The AADO will convey to its members information it obtains, but members will decide for themselves what actions, if any, they want to take based on that information. The AADO plans to offer a service to members through which it will explain what the terms of a vision care plan's contract are so that providers can better understand what they are agreeing to. The AADO will either initiate or support legal actions, where warranted and when discussions are unable to resolve differences of opinion, to enforce existing provider agreements, or to ascertain the legality or enforceability of provider agreements.

 

The AADO does not support and will not assist doctors or others in "banding together" to take any collective action with respect to any third party provider or to make collective demands on third party payers. Each provider of eye care services must evaluate the economics and burdens of provider agreements itself, in light of its own practice. Any given level of reimbursement may be fair and adequate to one provider and wholly inadequate to another. Accordingly, it is not the role of AADO to engage in discussions concerning specific rates of reimbursement. The AADO may, however, provider third party plans with collective data to help it more accurately determine appropriate levels of reimbursement.