Our profession is facing many challenges today. There are online contact sellers, online eyeglass retailers, companies that want to provide at-home refractions, HIPAA regulations, reduced reimbursements, vision plan policies that are not favorable to our practices, and so on. These challenges and more can be overcome if we have strong state and national associations.
As a famous commercial once said, “Membership has its privileges,” and the POA is no exception to this. Please allow me to explain just a few benefits of POA membership.
Advocacy — Many organizations exist today that want to help the independent optometrist. However, the POA and AOA are the only organizations that can actually protect and advance our profession. There are no other organizations in optometry that will lobby on your behalf and represent the profession both in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. These benefits often seem intangible because it takes persistent effort over many years to achieve certain goals. I can assure you, however, that good things come to those who wait.
The POA is currently supporting the Eye Care Freedom of Choice legislation introduced by Senator Kim Ward. This piece of legislation attempts to restore a “level playing field” in the eye care industry and ensure both patient freedom of choice when selecting a provider and providers’ freedom of choice to choose materials, fabrication and source of products, and also ensure a uniform provider contract.
The Pennsylvania Diabetic Eye Health Alliance (PDEHA) — Only POA members can become PDEHA members. Over 500 member doctors have signed on to this initiative so far and insurers are taking notice. As a direct result of this initiative, Geisinger Health Plan and the POA are working jointly to support the care of diabetic patients.
Electronic Claims Service — The POA is the only state affiliate with an electronic claims service with on-staff coding and billing experts.
C&E Vision Buying Group — This benefit program provides members with substantial savings on the purchase of frames, contact lenses, ophthalmic equipment, and more, while at the same time giving you the opportunity to have your POA/AOA dues paid for you as a percentage of your purchases through the buying group. To join, simply call C&E’s Member Service Department at (800) 346-2626.
Free Marketing Materials — Kids Welcome Here® brochures and posters are available at no charge to POA members. Members of the PDEHA are also entitled to a free poster promoting yearly eye exams for diabetic patients.
Discounted Continuing Education — POA offers discounted continuing education programs for members; non-members pay nearly double for the same programs. Upcoming events include a continuing education weekend from March 12 to 13 in State College, POA’s Annual Congress from May 13 to 15 in Camp Hill, a continuing education cruise from July 2 to 7, and free (for members) online webinars available for one credit each on the POA website.
Keystoner & Emails — Members may place classified advertisements for free in up to three consecutive issues. Other advertising opportunities are also available for members at a discounted price. The POA also sends out informative emails regarding upcoming events, local society meetings, legislative issues, and more. These means of communication are an exclusive member benefit aimed at keeping the association’s members up-to-date and informed.
The above are but a few benefits of membership. There are many other advantages to membership that I hope to highlight in future editorials. As members, we need to communicate these benefits to our unaffiliated colleagues and urge them to join. The POA can only be as strong as our membership will allow it to be.
As I stand at the crossroads, I am honored and humbled to serve as your 2016 POA president. With the help of the 2016 Board of Directors, our committee chairs, and volunteers, together we can advance our profession and take it to the next level. I look forward to working with all of you so that we can make this profession stronger. Thank you for allowing me to be of service.
The POA Board of Directors and I want to wish all of you a very successful 2016!
Mark Margolies, O.D.