Consistent and focused advocacy is critical to the long-term viability of ophthalmology and the delivery of quality medical eye care in Wisconsin. And the WAO is an active force in Madison working on issues of importance to WAO members that impact the practice ophthalmology. Our comprehensive advocacy program aims to:
- Strengthen the image of the practice of ophthalmology and educate policymakers on the importance of medical eye care; and
- Provide public policy leadership to enhance the practice of ophthalmology and ensure high standards for medical eye care are maintained in Wisconsin.
Of course, our most effective advocacy efforts aim to engage WAO members to capitalize on their medical expertise and experience– including creating opportunities for our physician members to meet with their local lawmakers.
In fact, now is the time for you to build relationships with your state lawmakers ahead of scope battles that are likely to unfold during the 2023-24 session of the Wisconsin Legislature. Optometrists could very well pursue legislation to expand their permissible scope of services in Wisconsin, as they have in several other states. In fact, there are now ten states – with Virginia and Colorado being the latest—that have expanded their optometric scope of practice laws to specifically include certain office-based laser procedures for glaucoma and post-cataract care. There are also current efforts underway in Nebraska and Washington state to pass similar optometric “scope creep” laws. Wisconsin could be the next target…
In addition, nursing special interests will almost certainly reintroduce their “APRN bill” – a proposal to create a new advanced practice nurse practitioner (APRN) license and authorize APRNs to prescribe medication and generally practice an expanded scope of care without direct physician supervision. A similar proposal introduced last session ignored the need for critical title protection for physicians.
In WAO’s ongoing effort to raise the profile of ophthalmology and our organization in the State Capitol, we have established our Capitol Connection program to encourage WAO members to invite their local legislators to visit their clinics and facilities.
The program is designed to help WAO members build and strengthen working relationships with legislators and offers a unique face-to-face opportunity to educate them about the importance of ophthalmology and medical eye care. Through the Capitol Connection program, lawmakers can learn firsthand what is important to the ophthalmology community. In many cases, just a single meeting or contact can have a significant impact on a legislator's view or position on a legislative issue.
With potential scope of practice legislative battles on the horizon, it’s more important than ever for WAO members to connect with their state lawmakers to discuss the critical role of ophthalmology, as well as the level of education, training, and knowledge required of ophthalmologists.
To date, we have held multiple successful legislative tours and have several more being planned for the near future. Hosting a legislator at your site is easy, enjoyable, and can make a significant advocacy impact, so we would encourage all WAO members to participate in this highly effective advocacy program.
If you would like to host a legislative tour at your site, please contact the WAO office at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will work with you and your legislators to coordinate the meeting and will provide full support, including legislator bios, advocacy tips, issue briefings, and supporting documents.