AAO, APAO leaders tout strength in numbers

Leaders of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) touted strength in numbers Sunday in remarks at the opening session of the first joint meeting of the two organizations.

Leaders of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) touted strength in numbers Sunday in remarks at the opening session of the first joint meeting of the two organizations.

AAO President Harry A. Zink, MD, said this strength could be harnessed for advocacy on behalf of the profession, especially relating to proposed Medicare reimbursement cuts.

"We need to be sure that our patients' health-care needs are met, that the system remains economically viable, and that quality and effective health care, not just less expensive health care, is the goal," he said. "The projected Medicare reimbursement cuts do not meet these standards. These cuts are unreasonable, unfair, and unsustainable.

"Physicians cannot and should not be singled out for cuts while hospitals and Medicare HMOs receive significant increases year after year," Dr. Zink said. "This approach has to change. Patients need to receive care from the most appropriate provider for their needs, be fully aware of the training and qualifications of that provider, and be assured that this care is adequately reimbursed, to guarantee its continued availability.

Advocacy is not self-serving, he added.

"Advocacy is essential to fulfill our responsibilities as physicians and ensure that our patients continue to have access to the best care possible," he said. "They deserve no less."

In his remarks, APAO President Yasuo Tano, MD, said that the joint meeting was "the biggest ophthalmology gathering ever."

Of the APAO, he said, "Members of our academy are spread over a wide spectrum of social, economical, cultural, and religious backgrounds and are delivering eye care to people comprising far more than half of the world's entire population. We should realize this may represent the greatest diversity of a single medical society on earth."

With enthusiasm, hard work, and "robust collaboration with friendly societies such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology," Dr. Tano said, ophthalmologists in the Asian Pacific region can surmount challenges related to their collective size, differences, and limited resources to restore and preserve sight.

AAO Executive Vice President H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, FACS, told those attending, "This is the first of what we hope will be many collaborative activities with our colleagues from the Asian Pacific region."