ST. LOUIS— VSP Global will host a Healthcare Reform Open Forum at the St. Louis Airport Marriott Hotel on Thursday, May 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (CT), to discuss issues related to health care reform, with particular focus on whether stand-alone vision plans should be permitted to participate directly in state health care exchanges. The event will also be simulcast live for doctors across the country to view and have their questions answered in real time.

Because of their differing opinions on the inclusion of stand-alone vision plans, VSP has invited the American Optometric Association (AOA) to participate in the open forum. While VSP feels strongly “that stand-alone vision plans being excluded from insurance exchanges poses a great risk to optometry and the access doctors have to their patients,” the “ AOA supports the inclusion of vision plans in the exchanges via contracting with qualified health plans” because “we see the lack of integration as a significant barrier to providing the best possible care,” said an AOA spokesperson, who added, “From the perspective of the patient, the current delivery system leads to confusion because of the segregation of ‘vision’ from ‘eye health.’”

Forum participants from VSP Global will be Rob Lynch, CEO; Tim Jankowski, OD, FAAO, immediate past chair of the board of directors; and Dan Mannen, OD, FAAO, director of the board of the directors. Representing the AOA will be Stephen Montaquila, OD, chair, AOA Third Party Center Executive Committee; Robert L. Jarrell, OD, chair, AOA State Government Relations Center Executive Committee; and Roger Jordan, OD, chair, AOA Federal Relations Committee. The forum will be facilitated by Wendy Beecham, managing director of executive education for the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

Currently, there are about 100 people registered to attend the event in person with approximately an equal number signed up to watch the simulcast. So far, 37 states plus the District of Columbia will be represented in person, including representatives from approximately 20 state optometric associations who are sending either their president, executive director or leader within the organization.

Representatives of both organizations will have the opportunity to present their positions next Thursday before a live national audience. Attendees will have four ways in which to submit questions to the panel—1) when registering, 2) via Twitter (#hcropenforum), 3) for virtual attendees, while watching the simulcast live, or 4) for in-person attendees, in the room directly to the panel. Registration is still open. For those unable to attend, a video of the event will be posted on the VSP Proves It website 24 hours after the event.