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  • August 29, 2022 10:45 AM | Becca Liebers (Administrator)

    WAO Looks to Boost Member Advocacy Engagement in Face of Impending Title Protection and Scope Battles

    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:

    1. Strengthen the image of the practice of ophthalmology and educate policymakers on the importance of medical eye care; and
    2. 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 actively engage WAO members in their strategy and execution – aiming to capitalize on the expertise of our physician members.

    Member participation in WAO’s advocacy programs is increasingly important, as we are likely to face two highly concerning legislative battles in the 2023-24 legislative session. 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 addition, we anticipate Wisconsin optometrists will pursue legislation to expand their permissible scope of services, 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. Again, it would not be surprising if an optometrist scope of practice battle hits the Badger State as early as the 2023-24 legislative session.

    Thankfully, WAO is well-positioned act on these issues. In addition to our direct lobbying efforts thorough our professional lobbying form (HZW), we have several advocacy programs in place – that draw on the collective grassroots voice of WAO members – to influence public policy at every level of government. If are not already involved, WAO encourages you to participate in the following three programs to strengthen our influence in the Wisconsin Legislature and ultimately help us meet our legislative/regulatory goals:

    • Sign-up for WAO’s Legislative Key Contact Program

    WAO’s Legislative Key Contact Program can be a highly effective grassroots advocacy tool to help build and nurture strong on-going relationships between WAO members and lawmakers in Wisconsin. Ultimately, the program can help us help shape new policies important to our members.

    The program is live on the WAO website and members can easily and quickly sign-up as a Key Contact. With the campaign season winding down, and the 2023-24 legislative session right around the corner, it’s more important than ever for WAO to have a robust Key Contact Program. It is essential to raising our profile in the State Capitol and beyond.

    As a Key Contact, you can help influence the legislative process by cultivating relationships with elected officials. By taking advantage of existing relationships and making new contact with members of the Wisconsin Legislature (as well as the Wisconsin Congressional  Delegation), you can help us educate lawmakers on the practice of ophthalmology and ultimately influence legislation.

    But the program will not succeed without strong member participation, so please take a few moments to read more about it – and learn how simple it is to “enlist” and participate as a Key Contact. The time commitment is minimal and your responsibility as a key contact depends on your level of comfort and willingness to engage.

    Remember, lawmakers are often eager to hear input from their constituents, and as an expert in the home health care field, you can make a real difference in the policy process as a Key Contact. CLICK HERE to sign-up by filling out and submitting a brief online survey.

    • Participate in the WAO Capitol Connection Program

    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 wao@badgerbay.co. We will work with you and your legislators to coordinate the meetings and will provide participating members with full support, including legislator bios, advocacy tips, issue briefings, and supporting documents. 

    • Contribute to the WAO Political Action Committee

    The Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology is committed to offering a wide collection of member services and programing. That includes a comprehensive government affairs program that provides direct lobbying services and grassroots advocacy strategies to increase WAO’s presence in the State Capitol and help shape policy decisions that preserve and enhance the practice of ophthalmology in Wisconsin.

    One of the most effective advocacy tools the WAO has as its disposal is the Ophthalmologists for Better Government Political Action Committee (PAC). The PAC allows WAO to collect contributions from members into a single account to support candidates for state legislative office who understand and support issues important to ophthalmologists, the practice of ophthalmology, and Wisconsin’s House of Medicine.

    Contributing to our PAC is more important than ever, as optometrists have been successful in expanding their permissible scope of services in several other states – and the debate is heating up in other parts of the country. Wisconsin could very likely be next… and an optometrist scope of practice battle may hit the Badger State as early as the 2023-24 legislative session.

    The best way we can win these legislative battles is to significantly enhance our legislative advocacy outreach, and having a robust, well-funded PAC is critical to our efforts. With strong member participation in the Ophthalmologists for Better Government PAC, we will be well positioned to preserve the Ophthalmology scope of practice in Wisconsin.

    As mentioned above, the WAO PAC is funded through contributions from ophthalmologists across the state and is only effective as a political tool if members participate in the program. With that in mind, please take a few moments and contribute online TODAY to the Ophthalmologists for Better Government PAC. Every dollar helps, as the risk of non-involvement in the political process is getting too high to ignore.

  • July 14, 2022 12:04 PM | Becca Liebers (Administrator)

    Dr. Holtebeck, WAO Legislative Chair, attending a reception event that included Governor Evers, emergency physicians and others.

  • July 08, 2022 10:53 AM | Becca Liebers (Administrator)

    Contribute TODAY to the WAO Political Action Committee

    The Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology is committed to offering a wide collection of member services and programing. That includes a comprehensive government affairs program that provides direct lobbying services and grassroots advocacy strategies to increase WAO’s presence in the State Capitol and help shape policy decisions that preserve and enhance the practice of ophthalmology in Wisconsin.

    One of the most effective advocacy tools the WAO has as its disposal is the Ophthalmologists for Better Government Political Action Committee (PAC). The PAC allows WAO to collect contributions from members into a single account to support candidates for state legislative office who understand and support issues important to ophthalmologists, the practice of ophthalmology, and Wisconsin’s House of Medicine.

    Contributing to our PAC is more important than ever, as optometrists have been successful in expanding their permissible scope of services in several other states – and the debate is heating up in other parts of the country. Wisconsin could very likely be next… and an optometrist scope of practice battle may hit the Badger State as early as the 2023-24 legislative session.

    In addition, mid-level practitioners will undoubtedly continue their efforts to expand their scope of care without direct physician supervision.

    The best way we can win these legislative battles is to significantly enhance our legislative advocacy outreach, and having a robust, well-funded PAC is critical to our efforts. With strong member participation in the Ophthalmologists for Better Government PAC, we will be well positioned to preserve the Ophthalmology scope of practice in Wisconsin. Our PAC can:

    • Help elect quality candidates who support issues critical to WAO;
    • Help WAO build relationships with candidates and legislators; and
    • Help engage WAO members in the political process.

    It is also important to remember that despite occasional negative connotations in the media, PACs are not “shady”, and they do not buy elections or votes. Rather, they are a legal, highly regulated political giving tool that provide organizations like WAO with a stronger voice in the State Capitol.  

    The Ophthalmologists for Better Government PAC is governed by a committee comprised of WAO members, who seek to support candidates who have demonstrated – through actions or statements –that they agree with WAO positions on eye care in Wisconsin. Other factors the committee may consider when deciding to support a candidate include, leadership positions in the legislature, membership on key legislative committees, or a personal recommendation from a WAO member.

    As mentioned above, the WAO PAC is funded through contributions from ophthalmologists across the state and is only effective as a political tool if members participate in the program. With that in mind, please take a few moments and contribute online TODAY to the Ophthalmologists for Better Government PAC. Every dollar helps, as the risk of non-involvement in the political process is getting too high to ignore.

  • June 28, 2022 10:53 AM | Becca Liebers (Administrator)

    Wisconsin Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) recently visited the Southwest Health Eye Center in Platteville, WI. Their tour of the Eye Center was part of the Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology (WAO) Capitol Connection program aimed at connecting ophthalmologists with their local state legislators to show them firsthand the importance of ophthalmology and medical eye care for Wisconsin patients. 

    “We were excited to host Sen. Marklein and Rep. Tranel and appreciated the opportunity to showcase our cutting-edge eye center and illustrate how we deliver critical eye care to the community,” said Dr. Chris Pruet, a Southwest Health ophthalmologist and WAO Immediate Past President. “Our team was grateful for our lawmakers’ interest in the practice of ophthalmology, the wide range of medical and surgical services we offer, and the hard work put in by the Southwest Eye Center staff to provide top-notch patient eye care.”

    Marklein, who was first elected to the Wisconsin Senate in 2014, represents the 17th Senate District, which covers large portions of southwest Wisconsin, including Grant County and the City of Platteville. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the Legislature’s powerful Joint Fonance Committee. Tranel was first elected to the Assembly in 2010 and represents the 49th Assembly District, which includes Grant County and portions of Richland County. He chairs the Assembly Tourism Committee.

    In WAO’s ongoing effort to raise the profile of ophthalmology and our organization in the State Capitol, the Capitol Connection program was established to encourage WAO members to invite their local legislators to visit their clinics and facilities. The goal is to build working relationships with legislators and offer them a unique opportunity to learn about the importance of ophthalmology and medical eye care. Hosting a legislator at your site is also easy, enjoyable, and can make a significant advocacy impact.

    If you would like to host a legislative tour at your site, please contact the WAO office at wao@badgerbay.co. We will work with you and your legislators to coordinate the meetings and will provide participating members with full support, including legislator bios, advocacy tips, issue briefings, and supporting documents.

  • June 28, 2022 10:52 AM | Becca Liebers (Administrator)

    Latest Marquette University Law Poll Shows Tight Races at the Top of the Ticket

    The latest Marquette University Law Poll, which was released on June 22, shows that Wisconsin’s top political races – for governor and the U.S. Senate – are extremely close less than a month and a half from the primary and a little more than four months from the November general election.

    In the Republican primary for governor, which will be held on Aug. 9, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is in a dead heat with construction magnate Tim Michels. The poll results showed 27 percent of Republican respondents favored Michels, while 26 percent backed Kleefisch. Other GOP candidates did not break the 10 percent mark.

    GOP Governor Primary:

    • Michels – 27%
    • Kleefisch – 26%
    • Businessman Kevin Nicholson – 10%
    • State. Rep Tim Ramthun – 3%
    • Other or Undecided – 34%

    The poll also showed that all GOP candidates trailed incumbent Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) in projected head-to-head general election matchups:

    • Evers: 47% — Kleefisch: 43%
    • Evers: 48% — Michels: 41%
    • Evers: 48% — Nicholson: 40%
    • Evers: 51% — Ramthun: 34%

    In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, the winner of which will face incumbent U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R), current Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes led the pack with 25 percent support from Democratic poll respondents. Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry came in at 21percent, while Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski received 9 percent support.

    DEM U.S. Senate Primary:

    • Barnes – 25%
    • Lasry – 21%
    • Godlewski – 9%
    • Outagamie County Exec Tom Nelson – 7%
    • Other or Undecided – 38%

    In addition, the poll also showed Barnes, Godlewski, and Nelson all leading Sen. Johnson in potential general election matchups:

    • Barnes: 46% — Johnson: 44%
    • Godlewski: 45% — Johnson: 43%
    • Nelson: 44% — Johnson: 43%
    • Johnson: 45% — Lasry: 42%
  • June 28, 2022 10:50 AM | Becca Liebers (Administrator)
    • The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has endorsed a new piece of federal legislation (HR 7995 – the Gold Card Act) that would give certain Medicare Advantage providers an exemption from some prior authorization requirements. The exemption would apply to specific items, services, or groups of similar services on which a provider has an approval rate of 90% or better during the preceding plan year. CLICK HERE to use the AAO’s automated advocacy tool to contact your members of Congress and urge them to support this important legislation.
    • The Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act of 2021 (H.R. 3173) – legislation that would streamline and standardize prior authorization in the Medicare Advantage (MA) program and would be complimented by the Gold Card Act – has garnered broad bipartisan support in Congress. In fact, the legislation, which would also provide much-needed oversight and transparency while protecting beneficiaries from unnecessary care delays and denials, has more than more than 330 co-sponsors in the House and Senate. 
    • Optometrist scope of practice legislation (HB 22-1233) was recently passed by the Colorado Legislature and signed into law by the governor. The new Colorado law increases practice rights for doctors of optometry (ODs), expanding their scope of practice to include procedures such as lesion removal, injections and corneal crosslinking, as well as certain laser procedures, including YAG capsulotomy. A similar bill was passed in Virgia earlier this year.
    • In early June, the state Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) announced that the agency is no longer charging fees to integrate the Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (ePDMP) into electronic health record systems managed by health systems and other health care entities. The intent is to simplify access for health care organizations, as well as increase wider participation within the health care community. To apply for a no-monthly fee ePDMP integration or for more information, go to the ePDMP website
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Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology

563 Carter Court, Suite B
Kimberly, WI 54136
Ph: 920-560-5645 • WAO@badgerbay.co

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