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March 2016
Volume 13, Issue 3
Welcome to the IOA eNews! If you would like to go directly to a certain section, use the links listed below. Or for easy viewing, you can click: View in Browser

In this Issue:
IOA President
IOA Secretary/Treasurer

IOA Legislative Trustee

IOA Public Health Trustee
IOA Third Party Trustee

Thomas Lawless Award
Special Offer for IOA Members from Singular Payments

IOA Associate Members
Useful Links

IOA's Mission

The Illinois Optometric Association exists to protect, promote, and advance the profession of Optometry by providing exemplary resources and support towards serving and enhancing quality patient care.

IOA's Vision
The vision of the Illinois Optometric Association is to be the primary advocate for the advancement of optometry through education, legislation, public service, and membership development by providing a unified voice for all optometrists to ensure the practice of Optometry at the highest level while providing patients with exemplary care.

Brian Plattner, OD
IOA President

The biggest priority during my presidential year has been and continues to be making sure we experience a seamless transition for the Executive Director position of the association, given the planned retirement of Mr. Mike Horstman this upcoming October. I am pleased to announce that our nationwide search for Executive Director has been completed. We had quite a number of excellent candidates apply for the position, but with the help of the search committee and after hundreds of hours invested in the search process vetting all the candidates, the Executive Council unanimously voted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 to approve hiring Ms. Debra L. Hurston of Minneapolis, MN as our next Executive Director.

The President’s Cabinet and the Executive Council were both extremely impressed with Ms. Hurston’s extensive previous experience with the Michigan Dental Association and the Minnesota Chiropractic Association and her understanding of how associations work. We were equally impressed with her vision, passion, enthusiasm, and numerous leadership qualities that clearly separated her from the other candidates. Ms. Hurston will begin serving the association on April 4th, and Mr. Horstman will work closely with Ms. Hurston between now and the end of October to get her up to speed on all of the issues facing Illinois optometry.

Ms. Hurston looks forward to personally meeting with as many IOA members as possible in the next few months, so please carefully watch your announcements for any society meetings or other meet and greet opportunities near you so that you can begin to get to know your new ED. I am quite confident that once you meet Debra you will agree with me that the future of Illinois optometry is very bright indeed and will continue to be in great hands for many years to come.

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Mark Skowron, OD
IOA Secretary/Treasurer

As Secretary/Treasurer one of my roles is to safeguard the assets of the association. The IOA maintains reserves to provide funding in the event of adversarial legislation or other unforeseen emergency. These funds are invested in conservative funds and provide the assurance that we would be able to continue to represent you in any catastrophe. As part of my duties, I recently undertook a detailed analysis of our investments and am happy to report that our portfolio has grown 76% since 2009. This is good, but we can always do better. I will continue to review our investments periodically to insure that we are doing the best we can to have the reserves that we might need for an emergency. As history has shown, you never know when we may come under attack or need resources to launch an attack of our own on our adversaries. An important part of the Secretary/Treasurer's job is to ensure that we are ready should this occur.

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Matt Jones, OD
IOA Legislative Trustee

Ladies and Gentleman, please bear with me. I bring a lot of (good) news, but there truly is a great deal of information required to get everyone up to speed.

Fortunately, for the time being, 1-800 Contacts has been quiet here in Illinois. Their contact lens bills still remain alive and can be revived at any time during this legislative year, so we must remain vigilant. 1-800 continues to push for potentially dangerous changes in various states. They continue to seek to eliminate brand name specification, expiration dates, and the ability for Optometrists to sell what they prescribe. Just as recently as February 16, Optometrists in the state of Arizona were able to see a bill (supported by 1-800) struck down that atrociously attempted to extend the minimum expiration date on contact lenses to 3 years.

Secondly, as I had alluded to in the previous e-news blast, there is big news in Illinois for Optometry. Just few short weeks ago, we announced that the IOA will be supporting legislation that will expand our scope of practice to include additional minor procedures and injectables. That legislation is the product of the Secretary of IDPFR having accepted an invitation to tour ICO that was extended by D.R. Gordon, OD, as head of the state Optometric board, and Mike Horstman, as the IOA Executive Director. Last fall, the secretary accepted the offer, and to say that he was thoroughly impressed seems to be an understatement. During his time at the school, the Secretary of IDPFR learned that there are many things taught at the school that are not able to be practiced when entering into the profession in our state of Illinois.

At the same time, our practice act is set to expire on January 1, 2017, in a process called sunset. While most often the dates are simply changed, this cycle the Department has insisted on introducing practice act bills in both the Illinois House and Senate that will allow for an expansion of scope for anyone who successfully is able to earn additional certifications. Again, I cannot stress enough, there is no requirement to those who do not wish to implement these things into their practice. Also, I want to clarify that the injections must pertain to treatment of an ocular condition and are not permitted into the globe of the eye.

The best way you can help is to contact your state representatives and let them know that you support the bills. It goes without saying that Medicine and especially Ophthalmology are coming out against this. While there are many Optometry friendly Ophthalmologists in the state, there will undoubtedly be a contentious turf battle from their association. We are currently in group discussions with these interested parties.

As we move into the future of our great profession, it is essential to consider that it is becoming more and more difficult to ensure our future success in the sales of optical goods. The battle with 1-800 exemplifies this concern that many of us share. While you can be sure that we at the IOA will fight to maintain your rights and abilities to competitively market optical goods, we must consider how we can strengthen the future of our profession by further growth into the medical model. This bill will do just that.

I ask for your support for the bill, and that you would please continue to give to our Political Action Committee (PAC).

To donate to PAC online - Click here

Need help identifying your legislators? Our website can help!
Click HERE to visit our 'Contacting Your Legislators' page.

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Tina Funk, OD
IOA Public Health/Public Perception Trustee

Congratulations to Debra Hurston in becoming our next Executive Director! I feel confident you will all agree that we are lucky to have found someone so competent to fill Mike Horstman's shoes. As we all know, those are large shoes to fill. Please welcome her with open arms.

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Eric Botts, OD
IOA Third Party Trustee

Just a reminder for anyone contemplating whether or not to attest for 2015 the following is a one time opportunity to avoid the EHR Incentive Program penalty for 2017.

To avoid 2017 Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program penalties, IOA members who might not meet the 2015 meaningful use requirements should immediately apply for a hardship exception because there was no time to plan for the delayed program requirements.

Doctors—both attesting and not attesting to 2015 meaningful use—should consider applying for this exception in the event they fail attestation to avoid the 3 percent penalty on all Medicare medical eye care claims.

In October 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) posted the Stage 2 Meaningful Use Program Final Rule after doctors began the presumed 90-day reporting period. This meant doctors had no time to prepare to meet the requirements for 90 days since the revised requirements weren't provided until fewer than 90 days remained in the year.

In frequently asked questions (FAQs) quietly posted last week, CMS clarified that the hardship exception for "extreme and uncontrollable circumstances" could be used for issues related to this delay to avoid the 2017 penalty.

Based on these changes and because applying for hardship exceptions does not adversely impact attestation for meaningful use, the IOA encourages members to apply for this hardship exception if they suspect they might not meet the meaningful use requirements, regardless of whether they attest for 2015 meaningful use.

Members can apply for the "extreme and uncontrollable circumstances" hardship exception by selecting section 2.2d when completing the 2017 Medicare EHR Incentive Program Payment Adjustment Hardship Exception Application.

CMS must receive doctors' hardship exception applications by 11:59 p.m. ET, March 15, 2016.

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Thomas Lawless Keyperson of the Year Award

At the Tinley Park CE this past Sunday, Dr. Plattner presented Dr. Tom Lawless with an award stating that from this day forward, the Illinois Optometric Association Keyperson of the Year Award will be known as the Thomas Lawless Keyperson of the Year Award in honor of all of his efforts on behalf of the profession.

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Special Offer for IOA Members from Singular Payments


This offer has been amended! Request a quote and provide your previous payment processing billing statements so we can calculate your custom flat rate and we’ll send you $50 that you can apply towards your 2016 IOA membership dues. Absolutely no obligation required. Visit

Singular Payments is a new IOA Associate Member. For more information, please contact Nina Pioletti at 877-829-7255 x7007 or email

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Please Visit the IOA Associate Members' Website Pages!
Click here for a full list of the IOA Associate Members.

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